Ponce de Leon - Frederick Ober

Ponce de Leon is best known for his quixotic quest in search of the Fountain of Youth in Florida. The full story of his life, however, includes expeditions of conquest in both Hispaniola and Jamaica, and several expeditions in the region of the Bahamas and the coast of Florida. He was killed in battle with the war-like Caribs, who resisted the Spaniards with a ferocity unmatched by their docile Arawak neighbors.

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Ponce de Leon


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Authorities on Ponce de Leon

There is no good Life of Juan Ponce de Leon extant, and the writer has been compelled to pursue his subject through several works, historical in nature, dealing with the times in which he lived, but affording scant material for a biography. Such authors as Herrera, Oviedo, Peter Martyr, Gomara, Barcia, and Las Casas have yielded something, however, and the various fragments have been pieced together, recourse also being had to other books on early Spanish discoveries. The author's researches in the West Indies were not unfruitful, for he has visited both Santo Domingo and Porto Rico several times, as well as investigated in Guadeloupe and other islands of the Lesser Antilles.

Of all the Spanish writers, Barcia is the fullest in details respecting Ponce de Leon. His work is entitled Ensayo Cronologico para la Historia General de la Florida. It was put forth as from the pen of "Don Gabriel de Cardenas," though really written by Don Andres Gonzales Barcia, and published in Madrid, 1723.

Barcia based his narratives referring to De Leon upon material found in the History by Herrera, who, he says, had access to the letters which Juan Ponce wrote to the Emperor Charles V., Cardinal Adrian, and others. (Decade 3, Lib. I., Cap. 14): ". . . Antonio de Herrera comprueba esta Cronologia con las cartas de el mismo Juan Ponce, escritas at Emperador Carlos V., at Cardinal Adriano, y otros."

All the sources on Ponce de Leon are mentioned in Winsor's Narrative and Critical History, and to them the reader is respectfully referred, with the caution, however, to be prepared for a long and perhaps wearisome search.