Title Page
 Table of Contents
 Origin and achievements of Florida's...
 Prelude to a voyage of discove...
 Motive for the voyage
 Herrera's account
 Crossing the windward gulf
 First landing on Florida
 Exploration of the coast of...
 Homeward bound
 An unfortunate trip to Spain
 First attempt at European settlement...
 Transcripts of Spanish texts with...

Group Title: Discovery of Florida and its discoverer Juan Ponce de Leon
Title: The discovery of Florida and its discoverer Juan Ponce de Leʹon
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00026726/00001
 Material Information
Title: The discovery of Florida and its discoverer Juan Ponce de Leʹon by Edward W. Lawson
Physical Description: 3 p. l., 127 p. : plates, ports., maps (3 fold.) facsims. ; 23 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Lawson, Edward W., 1881-1960
Publisher: E. W. Lawson
Place of Publication: <St. Augustine
Publication Date: 1946>
Subject: History -- Florida -- To 1565   ( lcsh )
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
Bibliography: Bibliography: p. 58-76.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00026726
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 000108104
oclc - 01241620
notis - AAM3705
lccn - 46020178

Table of Contents
    Title Page
        Title Page 1
        Title Page 2
        Foreword 1
        Foreword 2
    Table of Contents
        Table of Contents 1
        Table of Contents 2
    Origin and achievements of Florida's discoverer
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 4a
        Page 5
        Page 6
    Prelude to a voyage of discovery
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 8a
        Page 8b
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 10a
    Motive for the voyage
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
    Herrera's account
        Page 14
        Page 14a
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
    Crossing the windward gulf
        Page 20
        Page 20a
        Page 20b
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
    First landing on Florida
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
    Exploration of the coast of Florida
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 38a
        Page 39
        Page 40
    Homeward bound
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
    An unfortunate trip to Spain
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 48a
        Page 48b
        Page 49
        Page 50
    First attempt at European settlement in Florida
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 54a
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
    Transcripts of Spanish texts with English translations of documents relative to Juan Ponce de Leon and the discovery of Florida
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
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Full Text




Copyrighted by
St. Augustine, Fla.

Published by EDWARD W. LAWSON

Juan Ponce de Le6n, Discoverer of Florida

powi M



T HE DISCOVERY OF FLORIDA, Ponce de Le6n, the Fountain,
of Youth-these three fit in like the colors of the Rainbow; it is
not possible to think of one without the others.
Of course the accuracy, even the integrity, of some of our 'early
discoverers has been open to question. So great an authority on Florida
history as Buckingham Smith looked askance upon letters of Verrazano
which described his voyages but never have there been-any.doubts about
those made by Juan Ponce de'Le6n.
The present account by Edward W. Lawson should promptly quell
any doubt which might arise-nothing is left to chance, everything is
documented an'd made crystal clear. Steb h th ron
tote voyage, the equipping and assembling of shipn embarking of
personnel, sailing in search of new lands and don't forget-the Fountain
of Youth.
Beginning with a short biography establishing the birth of Juan
Ponce on a little hill in the Valley of Madrigal in the village of San
Tervas de Campos, we firfnhim beingplaced as a page when a youth
in the house of a nobleman ind taught the use of arms by Pero Nufiez
with whom he served in the Wars of Granada. He joined C:ihiini)bui
-' on'his second voyage and demonstrated his capacity as a colonizer and
administrator in Hayti by putting down an'uprising of the Indians
there. For this he was rewarded with the appointment as local governor,
devoting his leisure hours to the development of a plantation for raising
food crops, cattle and horses. This peaceful, successful administration
so impressed visiting natives from Puerto Rico and Governor General
of the Indies Ovando that he was in-it-.l by the first to come to their
island and ordered by the latter to explore it and .found a -ettileent
there. He set sail, landing on the small island of M.ina, between
'I-T;ti and Puiert, Ric--, where he arranged \with the native chief to
raise yucca, the Indian name of a plant whose root mai:de :;a-.a'a
bread, to be sent for as needed and paid for in trade; tlii waa in 1 5'.S.
Napoleon observed a couple.of hundred years later that an army's
march depended upon its stomach-Juan Ponce was a good teacher.
Did all this administrative ability escape the notice of King
Ferdinand of Spain? Not at all. Mr. Lawson has with his usual
painstaking care tran..a1ate.l the King'-', me-age to Miguel d'l Pa.saniminte.
Tre'asurer Ginrirral -.f the Indie., which s.adl-i-H-effect t iat he favored
Juar. P iince andl I vantIi to. remiiuitrate hlimi I', r hi- .rvicr. Later
hi invited Ponce de Le6n personally to come to Spain for further con-

sultation, -.t.i. "I thee will command that which thou hast to do and
in thy coming they shall not put any impediment, for thus it is con-
venient to our service.
That ;,i|.-:lil.. ,1 part was doubtless included to insure non-
interference by Diego Columbus or his associates. Whether Juan
Ponce really went to Spain then may be a matter of conjecture. Mr.
Lws.ierrr'tliiiik- l-, "l-irr inir.-nt tenor of the King's command would
not permit of its being disregarded," so he likely '.. 'it I'.I sooner or
later, like any other two rien along in years, they probably discussed
what was on their minds .mostly--their span of life-else why did
Ponce de LeC, -cl!-. t l-iniii as the island he wished to discover and
why did-thie King give him I. II .i. ',al-. !.,..l,? Wasn't it to
'locate -that Tointain, which Juan Ponce hadc h-eardp of and doubtless
told the King, which possessed such wonderful virtue that, "the water
l!,i ...f being drunk maketh old men ..i. n. again"? What king, then
or now, wouldn't encourage such an expedition? That however was
not the only motive- an ini,...rt.iiil. .li.i i i1. discovery of new
1-ili.i : but H errera, having -,,...,. t- t.. II rlt : ..I ..n i.-, -, I r.. -'t 1' II to
Inirilt ..! tlz_ ,jii ~. -l -i'i -ln ..i..ii Herrera, too, gives the only detailed
day t -.1. .,...:..,~lt of Juan Ponce's voyage. This is translated by Mr.
Lawson, establishing the route conclusively by use of maps, charts,
currents, soundings, 1.iiin.1, .. !..i.ilul -. astrolabe and navigational
dlqad reckoning; thus laying at rest"forever and a day all doubts of
Ponce de 1..,'.n' !'ir-l I'lI!! n. .. t the present site I i St Iu.-i iii- on
SApril 3, 1513 and that he named that landing place "La Florida."


Origin and Achievements of Florida's Discoverer............... 1

Prelude to a Voyage of Discovery ................... ........ 7

Motive for the Voyage .................................... 11

Herrera's Account ....................................... 14

Crossing the Windward Gulf ............ ..... ............. 20

First Landing on Florida................... ................. 29

Exploration of the Coast of Florida .......................... 35

Homeward Bodnd ........................................ 41

An Unfortunate Trip to Spain ............................... 46

First Attempt at European Settlement in Florida ................ 51

P ,il ii, i .,1, : .......... .... .......... : ....................... 58

A ppendix ................................... ............... 77

Notes ........................... ............ .... 103

Index ..... .......... ........................... 123

Maps........ ......... .............. ............Back of book

Printed in U..S. A.
Nashville, Tenn.


SPANISH COLONIZATION in the New World had come of age
before the name Florida was used to designate Spanish territory, for
it was 21 years after the landing of Christopher Columbus on San Salva-
dor that one of his companions on hisag "s naf
Flowers"i s na e. wo decades great additions had been made
to MTsgcographical and ethnological knowledge. Marvelous exploits
had been performed by men whose names still stand boldly forth on His-
tory's pages. There had been novelty in the first discoveries. Much atten-
tion was paid to the origin and previous accomplishments of the men
who made them. By 1513 discovery was becoming a more or less rou-
tine occupation. The later discoverers received less intensive considera-
tion. Information concerning them is scattered. The object of this
work is to bring together the scattered references to Florida's Discov-
erer and, in so far as is possible, to correct the many erroneous state-
ments which have been published concerning the man and his achieve-/
The Discoverer of Florida, Juan Ponce de Le6n, came from a
family of ancient Spanish nobility and could count as one of his ances-
\tors a king of Le6n.
In the year 1142 don Pedro Ponce de Minerva came from southern
France, as majordomo of Alfonso IX, King of Le6n, and established
his residence in the city of Le6n, head of that Kingdom. By marriage
with dofia Aldonza Rodriguez de Le6n, daughter of King Alfonso
and dofia Martinez de Silva, he obtained government of the City. His
descendants adopted the name Ponce de Le6n and as their Arms the -./
red lion rampant, similar to that on the Spanish Arms, but without the 9 ,
royal crown. (1)
With the passage of years the Ponce de Le6n family divided into
two branches. One went south to establish itself in Seville and Cadiz.
A scion of this branch, don Rodrigo Ponce de Le6n, was a leader in the
wars of Granada. Its head, don Pedro Ponce de Le6n, was Duke of
Cadiz at the time Columbus discovered America. (2)
The other branch remained in the ii,0t!! -.f Spain. It is from this
northern branch that the discoverer of Florida, Juan Ponce de Le6n,
descended. It is generally accepted that he was born about 1460. Al-
though no record of birth has been found, the place of births well
established as the village of San TervAs de Campos, situated on the
right bank of Rio Valderaduey, on a little hill in the valley called Val
Madrigal. (3)


i/As was the custom of his house and time, Juan Ponce de Le6n re-
ceived his early training' in the use of arms by being placed, as a page,
in the house of a nobleman. His instructor was Pero Nufiez de Guz-
man, of Toral, a village not far from the boy's birthplace. (4)
.vHe served Pero Nufiez, as a squire, in the wars of. Granada and
came to Hayti on the second voyage of Columbus in 1493. (5)

Spanish historians make no mention of Juan Ponce during the
unfortunate events of the conquestof Hayti by Christopher Columbus
and his brothers, neither have documents been found containing such
information. It is not until after founding of Santo Domin',. the
sending of the Columbus brothers to Spain by.Bobadilla, who turn
was superseded as.Governor C(,rn. ril of. the' Indies by Nic lus de
Ovando.that mention is made of Juan. Pn.:,. de L on as Captai of the
"people of war" of Santo Domingo. uoj(, From this it ma be as-
sumed that Juan Ponce took no 1.i' 11' -th rebellion against olumbus
led by Roldan and that in the dispute between the First Admiral and the
Spanish Crown the discoverer of F1l..! .1 had ever been the constant
loyalist as he continued until his deathj/
SShortly after the arrival of Ovando came Juan Ponce's first op-
portunity to demonstrate his ability as a colonizer and administrator. A
revolt of the natives of Higuey, at the northeastern end of Hayti, had
been suppressed by troops under the leadership of Juan Esquival.
Failing to capture the native leader, Esquival's expedition proved but
a temporary victory. When the second rebellion took place, Ponce de
Le6n commanded the Santo Domingo troops. The native chief,
CotubanamA, was captured. As a reward for his services in this cam-
paign Juan Ponce de Le6n was ip1.lih..l. by Ovando, as Place Lieu;
tenant of the Province of Higuey, an office equivalent to local ;.- : in ..r
of the province.' Establishing 1,i-.. .1' ,at Salva Le6n, Juan Ponce
started development of a large plantation devoted to raising food crops,
cattle and horses. (7)

I At this time the island of San Juan de Borinquen, now called
Puerto Rico, had not been explored. Christopher Columbus had
stopped at its western end to obtain, water from the spring at Aguada.
Other vessels had stopped along its shores ,for water and firewood, but
tI,: iiteri.-.r of the Island remained terra /;..,..i".,' Natives from
Birinquen f1i-rll ntil visited the eastern end of Hayti. These visitors
were evili.ntlh imipr.---d.l by the peaceful development of Higuey under
Juan Ponce's administration, for tl,-, informed him gold was to be
found in the rivers of their homeland. This news he communicated to
Ovando who ordered him to explore the interior of the Island and
found a settlement on it. (8)


On June 12, 1508, Juan Ponce set sail from Salva Le6n, carrying
food, supplies, and 42 people, many of them natives from his plantation.
On August 3rd his caravelon was thrown on the rocks by a storm, in
the harbor of Ynaa, and much of the provision was lost. A fortunate
wave refloated the vessel. Not discourag.eLd_ y his bad beginning the
explorer obtained fresh supplies and prorceded to Mona, a small island
lying between Puerto Rico and Hati. Here he made arrangements
with the local native chief to raise crops of yucca, native name for the
plant from whose roots cassava bread is made, to be sent for as needed
and paid for in trade goods. (It is worthy of note that in all accounts of
Juan Ponce's expeditions he is always described as starting with vessels
well provisioned. His own reports show that he took great pains to
provide additional food supplies. In this particular he evinced much
better, judgement than most early Spanish explorers who were prone to
depend on such supplies as they could obtain from natives by gift or
E'om-~DMNona the caravelon was sailed tn a ^ndit0 on the south-
west end of Bomnquen, where friendly relations were established with
te native chief, Aueybana, and arrangements for more ucca planting
w~ere made. -ere on August 1-_li. '. ini again overtook the ex-
pedition. A sudden tropical storm parted the anchor cable, threw the
caravelon high on the beach, and much labor was necessary to set the
vessel again afloat. While this was being accomplished, Juan Ponce, in
company with Agueybana and native carriers, explored the interior of
the Island. particularly the gold-bearing rivers having their mouths on
the north coast:. IConvinced by this exploration that the best location
for a settlement/would be in the vicinity of these river mouths, Ponce
de Le6n sailed eastward, around the eastern end of the Island, then
started search for a suitable townsite. Two locations were found un-
desirable, after short occupancy, and were abandoned after considerable
development work had been done. /

The thay on the northern coast had not escaped the explorer's
notice. Repeated examination of its shores had not found a suitable
site. He then determined to explore inland and find a location as near
to the bayshore as possible.
(The site selected, about two miles in from the coast, was named
Caparra. Here a storehouse was erected. A tortfted house of rammed
eat v was built. Extensive planting of yucca and ajes (a species
of ya ,' i,- ir.i.1.- r, .'ri. i. ,i r f .- ,1.1 l.: .11 h l -been

Ponce o :',r h -l th 'r i till 1 -i I i t ".. I l:ci ing

(care for the growing crops until his return. (9)


During his absence events had occurred in Spain which were to
have a profound effect on the explorer's life. Christopher Columbus
was now dead, leaving as his heir his legitimate son, don Diego. As
the Spanish Crown had removed the Columbus family from any part
in government of the New World, it became necessary for don Diego
to bring suit in the Spanish courts to establish his rights as heir to the
concessions granted his illustrious father. (10) After prolonged de-
lay, and at last no doubt hastened by don Diego's marriage to dofia
Maria de Toledo of very influential family, the courts decided dan
/Diego was entitled to all the concessions given Christopher Columbus
'in the capitulation signed before his first voyage. Ths verdict was
ed, however, byan who conce de&on Diego the
fitle of Admiral but limited him to government of such lands as had
beenactually discovered by his father. ..
News of this decision had ni.t reached Santo Domingo at the time
of Juan Ponce's return from exploring Borinquen, although Nicolus
Ovando, wise in the ways of courts and kings, may have suspected how
the case would be terminated. In any event he did the best he could to
reward Ponce de Le6n. for his labors by appointing himGove n and
/ C icf Tll-tice -:-f thl: I-anl1. (11) TlIK -..\ :cr' c t.u,-n -to-Ca.| r.
in li. _L-i'. \Iillrt..ih lie found his townsite had some d,-riwlinc-,-,
the drinking water being impregnated with copperas and the swamp
lying between town and bayshore being impassible at times, he still
considered it the best site at that time available and proceeded with
mining and :-!'riclltiura1 development on a large scale. (12)
T/ ih form of government, as established by Juan Ponce, washed
encomn~ai syste Under this system the general
government of all natives of the island was intrusted to the Governor
who might delegate his authority over any group or tribe to a Spaniard
designated as an unrtiii, ,,,'l,.'.) Native chiefs remained in charge_
their villages and were held reIl l'-l ~l e for furnishing a certain number
o imen- r ~iii 7 id aricultuirl w\-k. Personal service could not
be demanded from free natives'. Time was allowed them to raise their
own food crops and attend to other needs. This system, as designed by
Ovando and practiced by Juan Ponce de Le6n, resulted in peaceful
development of the island of San Juan de Borinquen as long as the
latter remained in charge. Unfortunately, under other administrators,
the encomienda degenerated into virtual enslavement.

Embarking with his bride, dofia Maria de Toledo, and accompanied
by many Spanish ladies and gentlemen, donlDiego lolumbus set sail
from the port of San Lucar, Spain, and arrived 'at Santo- Dom ng oni
July 10, 1509. (13) There came with him a young nobleman, Cristoval
de Sotomayor, also two unsavory characters, Juan Ceron and Miguel

Christopher Columbus and his Sons, Diego and Fernando (Diego at Left)


Diaz. The Young Admiral, as don Diego was now called to distinguish
him from his deceased' father, th First Admiral and the three others
just mentioned, were responsible for wrecking the peaceful development
of Puerto Rico by Ponce de Len. wrecking, in turn, was one ot
the factors which determined uan Ponce to seek new lands and led to
his discovery of Florida.

On their arrivalat. anto Diing, Cstoa deSotomayor pre-
sented._to don-iego-a-ee-ommision signed-by- g Ferdinand appointing
don Cristoval governor of San Juan de Puerto Rico. (14) This was
a direct infringement by the King on the Young Admiral's prerogative,
as Governor General, to appoint his own local governors. It was also,
evidently, indication that Ovando's provisional appointment of Juan
Ponce as governor of the Island would not receive Crown confirmation.
D..iDi .. .. r.-,irted his a ut tycM-eh eniEa n" d i
as Governor and Chief Lustice. The governorship was discontinued.
Juan Ceron was made Chief Justice. An appointment as Alguacil
Mayor [Sheriff] was given to Miguel Diaz. Tey at once proceeded
to divide the Indians among don Diego and his friends. (15) The
claimnot Sotomayor to the governorship was compromised by giving
him an encomienda of 300 natives and the village on the Island's
southern shore, where Juan Ponce had first landed. (16)
Under the Ovando appointment Ponce de Le6n had been legally a
partner of King Ferdinand in development of mining and agriculture,
Sa contract having been executed with division of profits set out in detail.
SThis partnership was now broken. The new administration was without
experience in handling either natives or agriculture and the Indians
were soon near open revolt. (17)
In the meantime Ovando had arrived in Spain. Ably seconded by
Pero Nufiez de Guzman (whom Juan Ponce had served as page and
squire) now holding a high position at Court, he succeeded in having
Sotomayor's appointment revoked and instructia s-issued-to- l..mi. D -L --.
to reinstall Ponce de Le6n as governor. On being reinstalled, Juan
Ponce at once placed Juan Ceron and Miguel Diaz in chains and sent
them to Spain to be tried for the many misdeeds of their short ad-
ministration. (18). Juan Ponce's next move was to offer Sotomayor
the position as Chief Justice, which don Cristoval accepted, but the
high society accompanying don Diego Columbus considered it ignoble
for one of Sotomayor's very noble lineage to accept a position under
one of Juan Ponce's rank, for though the latter was of noble birth ihe
had not' yet been knighted, while don Cristoval held. an hereditary
knighthood. (19) Don Cristoval resigned and retired to his village of
Indians, naming it Villa de Sotomayor, where he took as a concubine
the sister of the chief.


The result of this liaison was to bring to a head the long-smoulder-
ing Indian revolt which -[.:ll-r.l from.the arbitrary -acts of Ceron and
Diaz T"ir Villa of Sotomayor was burned and don Cristoval, with 80
other Spaniards, massacred. (20)
By prompt action Ponce de Le6n suppressed the rebellion, but
hardly had he accomplished this when. the Spanish courts had decided
in favor of Juan Ceron and Miguel Diaz, and they were reinstated in
government of the Island. (21)
It can be readily understood that, as a result of this sequence of
Events, Juan Ponce de Le6n felt that a future in the island of San Juan
\de Puerto Rico held little for him to look forward to.



E ITHER from a natural sense of justice, or because of the urging of
1 Ovando, King Ferdinand _acecid .hat t...the_ goeinr__ of Puerto >'
Rico was entitled to some reward for his services. On July 25, 1511', a
cadula was issued to Miguel de Passamonte, Treasurer General of the
Indies, with whom the King carried on a correspondence in cypher,
which read: (22)

"I send to command Juan Ponce de Le6n, who was our captain in
the island' of San Juan, because I have held him and continue to hold\
him a servant of the Crown, that he talk with thee and discuss all that)
may appear to him in 'which I can do him favor and he serve us;
S*..,,;:1l. if he wishes to. take any new settlement in his charge, as he
did the Island of San Juan, and that with what ye discuss, and thy
opinion take in all, it.come to wherever I may be because the negotiation
come to view I will command in it that which must be done, as more at
length ye will know and because I have the will to remunerate that
which the said Juan Ponce has served us and to do him favors for he
is a man well prepared for it .. ." (23)

In the interval following the issuance of this cedula Juan Ponce
underwent considerable persecution at the hands of Juan Ceron, no
doubt aided and abetted by the Young Admiral. Either because of .his
own complaints, or representations made at Court by his friends, a
number of documents concerning Juan Ponce de Le6n were issued
during 1511 and 1512. (24). One commanded that his house be re-
turned to him, and rent be paid for it, and made him a gift of the lots
on which his houses stood. Another ordered restoration of one of his
ships: which had been seized. A third especially commanded that no
impediment should be put in his way if he left Puerto Rico and went to
E'_'-ii 'I. [Hayti] or to Spain.

In the meantime the conversations Ferdinand had ordered took
place. Just what Passamonte heard Juan Ponce had asked for may
never be known. Intensive search in Spanish Archives has failed to
disclose a copy. It is evident from the King's reply that .the original
of a letter sent by Ponce de Le6n to the King was forwarded to
Passamonte. The tenor of Ferdinand's reply leaves no doubt as to his
surprise and contains such interesting comments that an entire trans-
lation is given here.


[A Cross]

To the officials of the Island Our Officials who reside in
Espafiola upon the agreement the Island of Espafiola: Juan
which they have to take with Juan Ponce de Le6n wrote me that
Ponce upon that of the said Is- which you will see, by the letter
land of Biminy [sic] which he which goes with this, ii,'n1 the
has to go to discover, settlement of an Island which is
called Binyny [sic]. I have com-
manded reply that we have committed this business to him and that ye
will take the agreement that must be taken. The cal -itulati..n he has sent
goes with this and it is certainly very immodest and apart from reason;
because all that now can be discovered is very easy to discover. And
not looking at it being so, all those who talk of discovering fly to the
capitulation that was made with the Admiral Columbus and do not
think that then there was no hope of what was discovered; neither was
it thought that such a thing could be. Ye must say, on this, to Juan
Ponce, what is suitable so that I may make and covenant the capitula-
tion that I make, which likewise goes here signed with my name.
And I think that he has reason to be content, because the Ade-
lantado don Bartolomi Columbus talked to me here that he wished to
discover this island. And I believe that he might have discovered it
with better advantage to our estate than we will do with Juan Ponce.
And ye will arrange with him, as I believe ye may arrange, taking the
most secure bonds that ye can. And because I wrote the Admiral
[Diego Columbus] that thou, Passamonte, wouldst give him a negotia-
tion that touched the said Juan Ponce, if thou makest agreement be-
tween us and him, thou shalt say to the Admiral that which thou seest is
suitable to forwarding this negotiation, so that he will help and favor it
in all that thou seest necessary. And thou shalt cause me to know all
that passes on it, very i-artic:ul.ii1',, and thou shalt set down by act of
notary the day ye agree to this capitulation, because if within a year he
[Juan Ponce] does not depart for the said voyage thou canst execute
the bond and penalty which is put on it. And thou shalt send with him
a person with the name of Inspector, so that he will see how that which
is obligated is complied with and advise here [in Spain] and there [in
Santo Domingo] of all that passes. And with the inspector thou
sendest thou mayest take the agreement which to thy view seemest best.
[,.H.: in ]:iri... the twenty-third day of February of One thousand
five hundred and twelve years. I the King.
By Command of His Highness Signed by the Bishop
Lope Conchillos of Palencia. (25)

Ferdinand the Catholic, King of Spain

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First Page of First Capitulation for Discovery of Bimini


Though the capitulation was signed on February 23, 1512, ithad
only the King's signature and had not yet been received or accepted by
Juan Ponce de Le6n. There may have been some demurrer on his part,
or it may be that Ferdinand wished some direct explanation of the reason
Juan Ponce desired to discover the Island of Bimini, for on August
12th of the same year this urgent order was dispatched:
[A Cross]
Juan Ponce de Le6n for at Juan Ponce: Because I wish
once that thou seest this come to to inform myself from thee upon
inform His Highness of some some things convenient to the
things convenient to his service, service 'f the Most Serene Queen
Done in Burgos, 12 of August, Princess, my very dear and very
1512. loved daughter, and me : for that
reason I thee command that as
soon as this my order thou seest, leaving thy house and estate in the
security which belongs to it, thou departest and comest wherever I may
be. With the present I send thee [orders] to give them [the officials
of Santo Domingo] so that in thy Indians and farms thou wilt not be
disturbed while absent. Having come, I thee will command that which
thou hast to do, and in thy coming they shall not put any impediment
for thus it is convenient to our service. Done in Burgos the twelfth
day of the month of August of Five hundred and twelve years, I the
Signed by the Bishop of Palencia. (26)
Before Juan Ponce could leave Puerto Rico itwas necessary for
him to undergo his residencia as this was required of all Spanish ad-
ministrative officers at the close of their terms of office. The residencia
was an examination into all the official acts of the retiring officer as/
well as a final auditing of his accounts. It was held before a special
judge, who could not be a resident of the same district, and any citizen
having a complaint to make could appear. The extent of the inquiry
was limited only by Royal C6dulas issued in any particular case. (27)
On November 1, 1511, Juan Sancho de Velasquez, then in Spain,
was appointed to take the residencia of Juan Ponce Le Le6n. (28) On
November 9th. of the same year, a cedula was issued limiting the in-
quiry to the extent that Tuan Ponce was not to be held responsible for
t rolt the Tndians of Puerto Rico. (29) On November 22nd
another; Cedula issued directing Velasquez not to consider complaints
made by Juan Ceron, Miguel Diaz, or the Bachelor Morales. (30)
However, the sailing of Velasquez was delayed; it was not until Feb-


ruary 23, 1512 (the same date as that of the capitulation Passamonte
was to offer Juan Ponce) that final instructions were issued to Velas-
quez. (31) He arrived in Puerto Rico either late in September or
early October, 15.12. (32)
S The residencia was co.ii.l' ..:l and decision given on October 6th.
"33) On October 7th, Juan Ponce, through his attorney, filed an ap-
peal. (34) From this sequence of dates it appears that Velasquez
sailed from Spain in the latter part of August and brought with him the
King's peremptory order to Juan Ponce de Le6n to come to Spain.
S The residencia being over, there were no legal restraints to prevent
iJuan Ponce from going to Spain to satisfy King Ferdinand's curiosity.
There can be little doubt that he made this voyage, as the urgent tenor
of the King's command would not permit its being disregarded. If a
record of the conversations between the aging explorer and the more
aged King were available, it might throw light on a question which has
engaged the attention of many historians. Why did Juan Ponce de
Le6n select Bimini as the island he wished to discover?

Search for the Fountain of Youth

L ~ a

L~r h


SPANISH historians are almost unanimous in asserting that Tuan
Ponce de Le6n went to --,.k :., F:int ,i,1 -f Youth.
Oviedo, who was a contemporary and claimed a personal ac-
quaintance with Juan Ponce, says: ". the King gave him the title
of Adelantado for that which he had spent and served in his Armadas,
and seeking that fountain of Bimine [sic] which the Indians had given
it to be understood would renovate or resprout and refresh the age and
forces of he who drank or bathed himself in that fountain ..." (35)
Peter Martyr, then secretary to the Council of the Indies, also a
c.*,i".i,... r113 and acquaintance, wrote in a letter to Pope Leo X:
".. .there is an island about three hundred and twenty-five leagues
from Espafiola in which there is a continual spring of running
water of such marvelous virtue that, the water thereof being drunk,
perhaps with some diet, maketh old men young again. And here I
must make protest to your Holiness not to think this is said lightly or
rashly, for they have so spread this rumor throughout all the Court,
that not only all the people, but also many whom wisdom or fortune has
divided from.the common sort, think it to be true." (36)

Las Casas, a contemporary, who had been a soldier in Juan Ponce's
company in the wars of Higuey, but now a friar and Protector of the
Indians, refers to Peter Martyr's account of slave raids in the Bahamas,
and pearls being found there, and gives this as Juan Ponce's incentive.
He does not mention the fountain; but then he was more interested in
describing the horrors of Indian slavery and considered every explora-
tion as a potential slave raid. (37)

Herrera, writing some 35 or 40 years after Juan Ponce's death,
I in. access to all .1.cin-i nii, concerning the v,.. a,.r- as well as the
earlier histories, gives the motive more 'l:.ici l cl'on i.kl niL: ,_:t i--
eludes the miraculous tountain. "It is a ,.-:!in I ,i, .- hI i-.i, "ti.t
i'raddition to the principal purpose of Juan Ponce de Le6n, for the
voyage that he made which was to discover new lands he
went to seek the fountain o Bi minl, and in 'loricda a river, giving
credit in this to the Indians of Cuba, and others of Espafiola, who said
that bathing in it, or in the fountain, old men were turned into
youths. ." (38)

One may readily appreciate, after c,.nri;i,._ in: il troubles Juan
Ponce had in Puerto Rico, and the very evident enmity existing be-
tween him and Diego Columbus, that Ponce de Le6n had a very strong


motive for wishing to discover new lands; land which had never been
seen by C (Iri-i..l,,- Columbus and as such would be beyond the juris-
diction of the Great Admiral's son. Still Herrera opens his summing
-lp of Ponce de Le6n's life with that characteristic Spanish expression,
"Es cosa cierta" [It is a certain thing], that in addition to all other
'r.i.-1.. Juan Ponce went to seek the Fountain of Bimini. The further
remarks regarding the river in Florida and the Indians of Cuba are
evidently borrowed from Fontaneda, whose memoir had just been writ-
ten when Herrera was compiling his history. But the works of earlier
historians were available to Herrera and they, too, insist the voyage was
made in search of the Fountain.
It is therefore desirable to examine this myth. Though a dominat-
ing motive was undoubtedly a desire to be far away from Diego
SColumbus, the direction in which Ponce de Le6n determined to sail, and
)the consequent discovery of Florida, may well have been determined by
1..:i.. f in the existence of such a miraculous fountain.
The discovery of some method of rejuvenation has been in the
Iail.-r.'i.'i1 of human thought since prehistoric times. One has but to
read the patent medicine and cosmetic advertisements of today to,
realize the continued vigor of this age-old dream. How much r,...-,
probable must it have seemed to the minds of men of the 16th century?
Filled with superstition, rendered more credulous by wonders discov-
ered, or reported as discovered, in the New World; it required little
more faith to believe the l!n.--.,.ilit "waters of life" would be found
The pages of Peter Martyr are replete with tales of islands of
women, mermaids, singing fish, alligators whose breath is perfumed.
In his references to the Fountain of Youth he argues quite shrewdly
that such a thing could exist. He says "not only all the people" but
that special class of wiser ones "hold it to be true." Rri.li.i- between
the lines, -it becomes evident that Peter also believes.
Long I., !..rc the discovery of America a letter came out of Africa
written by Prester John and addressed to the "King of France and
Pope of Rome." In it John describes the Fountain, claiming he had
washed in it six times and was then 562 years old. (39)
Sir John Mandeville, of about the same period as Prester John,
whether he ever made the journeys described by him or not, was long
believed to be a truthful writer. He tells the exact location of the
Fountain, in Asia, and also claims to have drunk from it with I..elki.i
results. (40)


Christopher Columbus believed he was going to reach the Orient
by sailing west; incidently he had a copy of John Mandeville among his
books. (41)
To crown this belief in miracles came the finding of the legend
current among the natives of the New \orld. In the Lucayos [Antilles
and Bahamas], in Hayti and Cuba, even on the northern coast of South-
America, it was known that the Fountain existed, definitely, to the north-J
ward. (42)
King Ferdinand seems to have shown little interest, in what part of
\the world Juan Ponce wished to explore, until informed that he wished
")0o discover the island of Bimini. Then it appeared that Bartolome
Columbus had asked permission to discover this island. IVhy ? Had he
read his brother's copy of John Mandeville? Where did Peter Martyr
get his information? According to him, this island is 325 leagues from
Espafiola, "as they say who have searched the same." Who searched
for it before Juan Ponce de Le6n?
Such a fountain would have enormous value; if it really existed.
One has but to recall the medical and surgical research of our own time
and the prices paid by eager human guinea pigs for results of doubtful
effectiveness. It seems quite probable that King Ferdinand, grown old,
was one of the hopeful kind, that his summons to Juan Ponce to leave
everything and come at once to "wherever I may be" may have been not
only to discuss the probability of discovering the Fountain, but also to
give the explorer some confidential instructions as to what should be
done in event of its discovery.
Naturally, when the expedition failed to make such a discovery,
the Spaniards turned to ridicule to hide their disappointment and
chagrin. It became a great'je to all writers from Oviedo to Fon-
taneda. Later historians, in all languages, follow their example. Neg-
lecting the solid accomplishments of the man, each in his account gives
more space to facetious references to the credulity of Juan Ponce de
Le6n and his fatuousness in searching for the Fountain of Youth. The
sarcastic remarks of these writers, most of them old men, are psycho- -

the 1I It. i iiI ,.! Il I -. III I I. .i |I l 111; L I i..
them it 1. l.I come too late.


A LL preliminaries attended to, Juan Ponce de Le6n was at last free
to follow his desire to explore to the northward.
There should be, in the Spanish Archives, ilr. ..fficial accounts of
this .,-.:i,... By his capitulation Juan Ponce was required to make a
report in duplicate. The Inspector whom Passamonte was directed to
employ under bond was sent especially for the purpose of reporting how
the capitulation was complied with. Anton Alaminos, chief pilot of the
voyage, gave a full report of it to Garay, then governor of Jamaica.
x Intensive search inr the Archives has failed to locate any of these docu-

S The only detailed, day by day, account of the voyage is that found
in Herrera, an official Spanish historian, who published his monumental
history of the acts of the Castilians in 1601, 80 years after Ponce de
Le6n's death.
Herrera had access to. earlier histories and to all ..-. :!.I Spanish
documents. He has been accused of borrowing some of the latter and
not returning them. His work is an edited compilation in which he
drew ii' -,I. .l. the works of other writers, -., oh.iii. giving credit; fre-
quently incorporated parts of official documents verbatim and also in-
terpolated his own statements.
Students familiar with the original Spanish editions of the earlier
historians, and the available documents of the period, have little diffi-
culty in determining sources of many of Herrera's statements. Borrow-
ings, editing, and interpolations are often evident, either from the verb
forms used or from his paraphrasing the statements of others.
Later historians have surmised that, in writing his account of this
voyage, Herrera had access to Juan Ponce's log book. It seems more
probable, from the nature of the day-by-day-statements ainld tl,- absence
of data usually found in log books, that he was using the account writ-
ten by PF;-an ,!nirt.'s inspector.
Before proceeding to a reconstruction of the voyage, the Herrera
," account will be analyzed. The following is a translation made from the
1' lanl1 edition, starting at Decada I, Libro IX, with borrowings and in-
terpolations italicized and annotated.
"Juan Ponce de Le6n, finding himself without office, on account of
Juan Ceron and Miguel Diaz having been restored to those of the Island
of San Juan, and seeing himself rich, (43) determined to do something

Frontispiece of Second Decade of Herrera (At Lower Right a Portrait of
Juan Ponce de Le6n and drawing picturing his three ships in a harbor)


by .which to gain..honor and increase his estate. As. he. had news that,
there were lands to be found at the north border, he resolved to go to
explore toward that part; f,,, ',li i ,. i i i.- i i ,, :; sel. well pro-
vjided w.ith victuals, people, and mariners, which for the purpose of
discovery are most necessary. (44) He left the Island Thursday in
the afternoon, the 3rd of March, setting out from the harbor of San
German. He went to Aguada, in order to take from there his course.
The night following he went out to sea to Northwest a quarter North,
and the vessels went eight leagues of a day's run until the sun rose.
They were sailing until Tuesday the eighth of the said [month], they
came to anchor at the banks of Babucea, at the island they call El Viejo,
which is in twenty-two and one-half degrees. (45) Another day [i.e.,
the next day] they anchored in an islet of the Lucayos called Caycos.--
Soon they anchored in another called La Yaguna, in twenty-four de-
grees. On the eleventh of the same [month] they arrived at another
island called Amaguayo, and here they were at repairs, They passed to
the island called Manegua, which is in twenty-four and a half degrees.
(46) On the fourteenth they arrived at Guanahani, which is in twenty-
five degrees and forty minutes, where they dressed a ship to cross the
windward gulf of the islands of the Lucayos. This island Guanahani
was the first that the Admiral don Christopher Columbus discovered,
and where in his first voyage he went on shore, and he called it San
Salvador. (47) They left from here, running northwest, and on Sun-
day, the twenty-seventh, which was the day of the Feast of Resurrec-
tion, which commonly they call of Flowers, they saw an island and did
not stop to examine it. And Monday, the twenty-eighth, they ran
fifteen leagues in the same way, and Wednesday they went on in the
same manner, and afterward,, with bad weather, until the second of
April, running west-northwest, the water went diminishing to nine
fathoms, at one league from land, which was in thirty degrees eight
minutes, they ran along the coast seeking harbor, and the night anchored
near land, in eight fathoms of water. And thinking this land was ar
island, they called it the Florida, because it had a very beautiful view of
many cool groves and it I'- ~ I aI, tiulirli l. .. i /
they "i-ceer i i th i tl_ [ "er' -[ ,, l,,t \ '-.4 '.llP P- i,: r
wished to conform in the name with these two :e',-':'. H: .- _
land to take information and possession. Friday the eighth they set
sail eyraW e same way; and on Saturday they sailed to the South
a quarter Southeast; and sailing by the same rhumb, until the twentieth
of April, they discovered some huts of Indians, where they anchored.
And the day. following, all three vessels following the sea coast, they
saw a current that, notwithstanding they had a strong wind, they
could not go forward, but backward, and it seemed as if they were
going on well; and finally it was known that the current was such it


was more powerful than the wind. The two vessels which found them-.
selves nearest to the land anchored, but the current was so strong it
made the cables over twist; the third vessel, which was a brigantine,
which found itself more at sea, failed to find bottom, or did not know
the current, and it was drawn away from the land, and they lost sight
of it, though the day was clear and with fair weather. Hereuan
Ponce wanted y he Indians, who immediately tried to
take the boat, the oars and arms. And not to break with them they
suffered them, and in order not to alarm the land. But because they
struck a seaman in the head with a stick. from which he remained un-
conscious, they had to fight with them, who with their arrows and
,, armed staves, the points of sharpened bones and fish spines, wounded
two Spaar, and the Indians received itte harm. The nigtit separat-
ing them, Juan Jonce regathered the Spaniards after hard work. He
departed from there to a river where he took water and firewood, and
was awaiting the brigantine. Sixty Indians ran there to hinder him.
.He took one of them for a pilot, so that he might learn the language.
He gave this river the name La Cruz [the Cross] and he left, in it, one
of hewn stone with an inscription; they did not finish taking water be-
cause it was brackish. Sunday, the eighth of May, they doubled the
cape of the Florida, which they called Cape Corrientes, because the
water ran so swift it had more force than the wind, and would not allow
the ships to go forward, although given all sail. They anchored behind
a cape close to the village called Abaioa. All this coast from Punta de
Arracifes as far as this Cape Corrientes runs North and South a quar-
ter Southeast, and it is all clean and of a depth of six fathoms, and the
Cape is in twenty-eight degrees and fifteen minutes. (48) They
sailed until they found two islands to the South in twenty-seven de-
grees. The one having an extent of one league they named Santa
Marta, they watered in it. Friday, the thirteenth of May, they set sail,
running along the coast of a bank and reef of islands as far as the
vicinity of an island they called Pola, which is in twenty-six and a half
degrees. (49) And between the shoal, the reef of islands and the
ninl: i'dl. the great sea extends in the form of a bay. (50) Sunday,
the day of the Feast of the Holy Spirit, the fifteenth of May, they ran
by the coast of the chain of islets ten leagues as far as two. white islets.
And to all this ledge of islands and islets they gave the name of the
Martyrs, because seen from a distance, the rocks that rose seemed men
who were suffering; and the name has been perfect also because of the
many who have been lost in them since. They are in twenty-six de-
grees and fifteen minutes. (51) They were sailing, sometimes to the
North and others to the Northeast, until the twenty-third of May. And
on the twenty-fourth they ran along the coast to the South (not observ-
ing if it was mainland) as far as some islands that make out to sea.


And because it appeared there was an. entrance, between them and the
coast, for ships, for taking water and firewood, they were there until
the third of June, and careened one vessel which was called San
Cristoval. And in this time the Indians in canoes ran there to re-
connoiter the Spaniards, coming for the first time. Seeing that, al-
though the Indians called to them, the Spaniards did not go ashore,
they wishing to raise an anchor to repair it, they thought they were
going. They put to sea in their canoes and laid hold of the cable to
carry the ship; for which the boat went behind them, and going on
shore, they took four women and broke two old canoes. At other times
when they ran there they did not come to a rupture, because they saw
no preparation, but they traded skins and low gold."
[Chapter XI]
"On Friday the fourth, awaiting a wind to go in search of the
Cacique Carlos (52), who the Indians of the vessels said had gold,
there arrived a canoe at the boats, and an Indian who understood the
Spaniards, who was believed must be from Hispaniola, or from another
island inhabited by Castilians, he said they should wait, that the Cacique
wished to send gold to trade, and waiting there appeared up to twenty
canoes, some attached two and two, some went to the anchors, others to
the vessels, and they commenced to fight from their canoes, and not be-
ing able to raise the anchors they wished to cut the cables, an armed
boat went out to them and made them flee and abandon some canoes,
they took five and killed some Indians and captured four, two of them
Juan Ponce sent to the Cacique that they might tell him that even though
they had killed a Castilian with two arrow wounds, he would make peace
with them. The following day the boat went to sound a port that was
there and the people went out on land, the Indians gathered to them,
and they said, that the next day the Cacique would come to trade (but
it was a deceit) meanwhile the people and canoes drew together: and
thus it was that to the 11 there came out eighty in breech clouts about
the vessel that was nearest, fighting from morning until night, without
harm to the Castilians, because the arrows did not reach them, and the
Castilians after having tarried nine days, Tuesday, the 14th, resolved
to return to Hispaniola, and to San Juan, with the end of discovering
on the passage some islands of which the Indians they carried gave in-

"They returned to the island where they took water, and which
they called Matanza for the Indians that they killed. Wednesday they
went in lookout for the chain of eleven small islets, that they left to the
West; Thursday and Friday they ran in the same way, until Tuesday
the twenty-first, they reached the chain of islets which they named
Tortugas, because in a short time of the night they took, in one of these


Islands, a hundred and seventy turtles, and might have taken many more
if they wished, and also they took fourteen seals [or manatee], and
there were killed many pelicans and other birds, of which there were
five thousand. Friday, the t'rit -fi"..i ri!. they ran to the Southwest a
quarter West, Sunday they saw land, Monday they traveled along it to
reconnoiter it, and Wednesday they took port in it and dressed the
yards and sails, :ihli .ulj they,: ..uI.l not know what land it was the most
took it for Cuba, because :l,,i found canoes, d ,-, cuttings from knives,
and iron tools; and not because .ii--,ii,- knew, himself, it was Cuba,
but to say that to Cuba they took that course, and that it ran East and
West like it, saving they were finding tili,-!,ch. eighteen long leagues
distant from the course for it to be Cuba. On I-nil. they went out
from here in search of the Martyrs, Sunday they arrived at the island
of Achecambey, and passing by Santa Pola and Santa Marta, they ar-
rived at Chesquescha, they navigated up to some islands, that were in
the banks of the Lucayos more to the West, and anchored in them the'
eighteenth of July, where they watered, and they put the name of La
Vieja, for an old Indian woman, without any other person, that they
found, and they are in twenty-eight degrees. (53) They could not--
know, in the beginning, the name Florida had, in the opinion of the dis-
coverers, because seeing that that point of land came out so that they
had it for an island, and the Indians as it was mainland, spoke the name
Sof each province, and the Castilians thinking they were deceiving them,
but in the end, for their importunities, the Indians said, that it was
called Cauti6, a name that the Indians of the LU'i::.,..,. put to that land,
because the people of it carried their secret parts covered with leaves of
i palm woven in the manner of a plait. The twenty-fifth they went out
7) from the islets, in lookout for Bimini, navigating among some islands
they thought overflowed, and being stopped, not knowing where to pass
with the vessels, Juan Ponce sent a boat to reconnoiter an island which
he took to be overflowed, and found it to be Bahama, and thus the old
woman gave it, that they carried, and Diego .ii ui.l.., pilot, whom they
encountered with a vessel from Hispaniola, that went on its adventures,
although others say he made port there by luck, They went out Satur-
day, the sixth of August, for where they had gone and until finding the
deep they ran Northwest a quarter West to an island of rocks alone at
the edge of the deep, they changed the course running by the edge of
the bank to the South, although Bimini was not in that way, and for
fear of the currents, which another time were throwing the vessels to
the coast of Florida, or Cauti6 (as then they said) they turned their
route to the island of San Juan de Puerto Rico."
The remainder of Herrera's account tells of the return through the
Bahamas and has no bearing on the discovery of Florida.


In the following chapters a reconstruction of the voyage will be
made by calculations based on the statements of Herrera, taking into
,account the navigational knowledge of that time supplemented by
present hydrographic knowledge of the waters sailed in.


H ERRERA states, at the beginning of his account that Juan Ponce
de Le6n equipped three vessels. On their arrival at San Salvador
they "dressed a ship." Later, when they encountered the Gulf Stream,
in their progress down the eastern coast of Florida, the two vessels
nearest shore are described as anchoring while the third, "which was a
brigantine," failed to anchor and was carried backward. On arrival at
their anchorage on the west coast of Florida they careened one vessel,
"that was called the San Cristoval." The names of the two other vessels
are not mentioned in Herrera's account of the voyage.
On completion of his exploration of Puerto Rico, Juan Ponce, in his
report to Ovando which was accompanied by recommendations, re-
quested permission to have a brigantine built, for use in pursuing the
Caribes, and to be allowed to use a caravelon to move his family from
Higuey to Puerto Rico.( A caravelon is mentioned as the vessel in
which the voyage to Puerfo Rico was made, evidently a staunch vessel
as it came through being driven on the rocks in the port of Ynaa and
beaching on the southern coast of Puerto Rico. (54) A Royal Cedula
issued August 12, 1512, directs "that there be restored to Juan Ponce de
Le6n a ship that was taken from him with the freight and cattle that
were removed from it." (55) Possibly this was the San Cristoval.
At the stop rnadeeon the coast of Cuba mention is made, by Herrera, of
their having "dressed the yards and sails," indicating that at least one
of the vessels was square rigged.
From these descriptions of vessels known to have been owned by
Juan Ponee, it is assumed on his first voyage to Florida he commanded
a'ship, the San Cristoval, of the type the Spaniards called a nao (in
F-nli-h a carack or galleon), a caravelon (a large caravel) and the
brigantine (a shallow draft small vessel). The direction and speed of
courses sailed by this squadron would depend on winds favorable for the
square rigged San Cristoval, as the round hulled square rigged ship of
the period could make little or no progress against the wind and was
practically limited to courses in which the wind was "abaft the beam."
SIn reconstructing the voyage we will be restricted'by the naviga-
tional practices of the period, but will apply present-day hydrographical
knowledge of the waters sailed in.

SNavigators of the 16th century had no means of determining longi-
tude at sea. Determination of longitude on shipboard requires an ac-
curate portable timepiece. Ship's clocks and chronometers had not then
been invented. Longitude of fixed places could be determined, with fair


.7 I ^,. 4
ri a /o n,
^^*.'*i""-^''^ ""^ ?* <

Ships of the Period; part of the Map of Fernando Columbus, 1527


Form of Astrolabe used by Spanish Navigators


Accuracy, by observations of eclipses of the moon, checking the local
\time of occurrence at the point in question as compared with the ob-
served time at the place of reference later, by correspondence. Such a
method was obviously of no value in determining the position of a ship
at sea. Time was measured by the sand hour glass. No method of
measuring the speed of a ship was available other than timing the speed
with which some floating object, or a visible point of land, was passed.
The compass was in use for determining the general direction of courses
steered; its variation from true north was known to experienced navi-
gators of the period.
There were two instruments for determining latitude, the cross
Staff and the astrolabe. Each had its disadvantages. The cross staff,
as-its name indicates, was in the form of a cross, the cross piece being
made to slide on the staff, with a sight at each end of the cross and one
at the end of the staff. By looking through these sights, and sliding the
cross piece, a position could be found in which the horizon was visible
through one cross sight and the sun visible through the other. The
staff was graduated in degrees and fractions to indicate the angle thus
observed. Observations with the cross staff required a sharply visible ,
horizon, not to be found in hazy weather, and a quick shifting of the
line of sight from one end of the cross to the other. To avoid these
difficulties the astrolabe, long in use for astronomical observations on
land, was adapted to nautical use by Spanish navigators. The marine
astrolabe consisted of a disc of metal, usually 6 inches or more in di-
ameter, on which was mounted a movable arm with two sights. In use
the instrument was held suspended by a cord attached to a ring on the
edge of the disc. In taking an observation of the sun, the observer held
the disc suspended before his face, turning the arm until the sun was
visible through the two sights. He then read the angle indicated by the
edge of the arm on a scale engraved on the side of the disc. It is-'
obvious that the use of this instrument in rough weather would be diffi- i
cult. To avoid this difficulty, observations were taken on land when\
Having observed the angular altitude of the Sun at local noon,
the navigator would then consult his nautical tables to obtain the decli-
nation, that is, the angular distance the Sun was calculated to be north
or south of the equator at noon on that particular day, and by addition
or subtraction of the two angles, as the case required, he would deter-
mine his own angular distance from the equator, that is, his north or
south latitude.
It will be seen, from this description, that in order to obtain an
accurate latitude the observer must not only obtain an accurate ob-
servation of the Sun but must also have an accurate table from which to



departure being Aguada Point at the northwest end of Puerto Rico.
The information given permits an estimate tespeed at which the
voyagers could travel under what, evidently, was considered favorable

Spanish navigators considered a degree of latitude equivalent to
172 leagues. (58) A league, then, would be equivalent to 3.43 U. S.
nautical miles. The night's run would be 27.44 nautical miles. Assum-
ing that a favorable breeze arose at sunset, and allowing two hours to
assemble crews and work the ships out of harbor, there would be ten
hours' sailing time from 8 P.M. until sunrise for that latitude during
March. (59) This gives an average speed of 2Y4 nautical miles per
The courses Juan Ponce sailed through the Bahamas, and the is-
lands he stopped at, on his way to San Salvador, have no bearing on
the discovery of Florida and nothing is to be gained by an attempt to
identify them. The latitudes for these islands and that for San Sal-
vador are evidently Herrera's interpolations. (60)
The general direction described by Herrera is confirmed by the
description given by Las Casas, passing the islands of the
Lucayos [Bahamas], he wished to take the route higher up, to the left
hand. ." (61) Herrera gives the date of arrival at San Salvador as
March 14th, but does not state the date of departure from this island.
Courses are shown on Map No. 1.
Leaving "Guanahani" [San Salvador], the compass course steered
was Northwest and on Sunday, March 27th, they sighted an island but
did not stop to examine it.

There are no ports on the eastern, or windward, side of San Sal-
vador. Of necessity the stop made there would have to be along the
leeward coast. (62) Natural point of departure for a Northwest
course, from San Salvador, would be the northwest point of the island.
Laying the compass course down on a modern chart, it is found to cross
Great Abaco island. Obviously they could not have followed the exact
compass course. (63)
The Coast Pilot states that a branch of the Equatorial Current,
known as the Antilles Current, flows along the entire windward side of
the Bahama Islands with a speed of 1 nautical miles per hour, in a
direction Northwest a quarter North. (64)

Laying down experimental lines on the chart will show that the
wind, during this part of the voyage, was coming from slightly south of
Southeast. Had'the wind been east of Southeast, it would have over-







course steered, for none is given. This statement gives a new rate for
their speed-fifteen leagues a day, or 2.14 nautical miles per hour.
From Sunday, 3 P.M. to sunset on Wednesday, gives 75 hours'
sailing time, which, at 2.14 miles per hour; corresponds to a distance of
160.5 nautical miles. Plotting this distance on our modern chart, places
the explorers in N. Latitude 280 34'. The drift is yet to be considered.
Assuming it to ,be of the same magnitude as on the previously con-
sidered run, the correction would amount to 12.8 nautical miles, which,
plotted at a right angle to the compass course, places the vessels in N.
Latitude 280 53', and in W. Longitude (taken from the scale on H. O.
Chart 1290) 78 40'.
At this pint, Herrera tells us, the weather changed and the com-
pass cour~de 'as changed to West Northwest. (67)
The days under consideration would be from April 11 to 15 by
modern calendar. Weather Tables for Jacksonville, Florida, and
vicinity show that the weather during March and April is variable.
Southeast winds predominate, but both Northeast and Southwest winds
are frequent, with Northwest coming next in frequency. Occasional
gales of more than 32 miles per hour may be expected, these being more
usual in March than in April. No foggy days are shown for April and
no calm days throughout the year. (68)
The bad weather Herrera refers to was evidently a clockwise shift
'.f wind preceding a northwest blow. The change would occur at sun-
set on Wednesday, the wind shifting quickly from Southeast to South-
west and then to Northwest as it does before a northeast storm in this
It would be a bad night for the explorers. As soon as the wind
drew to Southwest the square-rigged San Cristoval would lose headway.
As this wind would be at a right angle to her Northwest compass course
its only effect would be to drift her out to sea, to the Northeast. Anton
Alaminos, the most experienced pilot in the Indies of his time, would
know that a strong Northwest wind was coming. This would blow
them back to the keys and banks of the windward side of the Bahamas,
which they had sighted three days previously. The water at their
location is 3,000 feet deep; anchoring was out of the question.,
1"'1:- \atc Vr1',( -,*i .. i, ',v.r, until ti,:ri v-i .x|.1ri:i l. They
were tiiilN.,i \\i li c :i .td )..I H .,u t an-l I i ',l it., Ri, I.... .l _,: dt-.p water )
runs close to shore. To sail on in the dark might result in their being
wrecked on an unknown coast. If they struck sail, to wait for day-
light, the sluggish San Cristoval would soon be rolling in the trough
between waves, straining her masts and rigging at each roll. It is hard



currentt detailed consideration. The following description is condensed
from Bowditch and the U. S. Coast Pilot. (69)
The Gulf Stream is the most remarkable of all Ocean Currents.
Flowing out of the Gulf of Mexico, between the Florida Keys and the
north coast of Cuba, it turns northward, through the Bahama Channel,
between the east coast of Florida and the Bahama Bank until just east
of St. Augustine it is joined by the Antilles Current. The combined
streams then flow north to Cape Hatteras [and beyond waters we are
concerned with]. The Stream flows at the rate of 12 to 22 miles per
hour around the southern end of Florida, increasing in speed to 3 to
4Y2 miles in the Bahama Channel. This speed gradually decreases as
it goes northward, particularly after being joined by the Antilles Cur-
rent. Width of the Gulf Stream is about 40 miles in lower latitudes,
broadening north of Cape Hatteras to 60 or 80 miles. The Coast Pilot
says, "A steamer bound from Cape Hatteras to Havana crossing
the Gulf Stream at Jupiter or Fowey Rocks, an average allowance of
2Y2 knots in a northerly direction should be made for the set of the
current." (70)

For estimating the effect of this current on Juan Ponce's voyage,
at this point 6f crossing, a current width of 50 nautical miles and a cur-
rent speed of 24 knots (i.e., 2% nautical miles per hour) is adopted.
Theoretically, sailing across this 50-mile-wide current on a West North-
west compass course, the vessels would travel 54 miles. At the esti-
mated speed of 2 miles per hour, crossing at this angle would take 18
hours. Entering the current at 1:15 A.M. Friday, the inshore, or
western, edge of the Stream would be reached at 7:15 P.M. of the same
day. Figured as a straight compass course, they would emerge in N.
Latitude 280 59.2'.
However, it would be impossible for them to make such a crossing.
During each hour of the 18 the ships would be carried 2Y4 nautical
miles north of their compass course by the current, a total drift of 40.5
nautical miles, giving a corrected position of N. Latitude 29' 39.5' for
the point where they came to the inshore edge of the Gulf Stream on
Friday, April 1, 1513, at 7:15 P.M.
It would be dark, but they would be in soundings. The leadsman,
heaving his weighted line, would find 17 fathoms (102 feet) of water.
They could safely continue sailing through the night as soundings taken
at frequent intervals would indicate a gradual decrease in water depth.
With the coming of daylight, on Saturday morning, the coast of Florida
would be in sight. Carried a little south, by the inshore southerly cur-
rent which follows the Florida coast line, they would come to anchor in
nine fathoms of water at a league from land.

SORRECT latitude of St. Augustine, Florida, as determined by the
United States Engineers, in 1936, is 290 54'. The earliest latitude
recorded for the "Ancient City," stated by Pedro Menendez de Aviles,
on September 11, 1565, three days after the city was founded, is 300
30'. On October 15, 1565, Menindez writes that he has found this
observation to be in error and has had the latitude of St. Augustine
accurately taken, "on land." He then gives the correct position as 290i7
30'-sixty miles south of his former statement and twenty-four south
of the true latitude. (71)

An equally wide variation is shown by subsequently recorded St.
Augustine latitudes as shown in the tabulation below. Some of these
are stated for the Inlet, others for the Fort, and others for the City,
but as the three points are within less than one nautical mile, or one
minute of latitude, of each other they may be considered as given for
the same location.
0 .
U. S. Engineers, 1936 (accepted as true) .................. 29 54
Pedro Menendez, October 15, 1565. ....................... 29 30
Map, 1564-75; Florida Old and New, Dau ................. 30 03
Map, Boazio, 1586 (Drake Attack) ....................... 30 00
Map, English, Corse Coll. n. d............................. 30 10
Map, Spanish; No. 127 British Crown Coll ................. 29 50
Arredondo, Spanish Engineer, 1737 ....................... 29 50
Gentleman's Magazine, 1763.............................. 30 00
Jeffery's Map, 1763-1783 (British Cartographer) ............ 29 40
Roman's Map, 1776 (British Surveyor) ................... 29 52
Map, 1715, No. 16 British Crown Coll..................... 29 40
Map, 1680[ ?, No. 4 British Crown Coll................... 29 45
Map, John Lee Williams, 1839. ..................... .... .29 50
Atlas, Tanner's, 1839.................... .. ............ 29 40

SOver a period of 274 years the recorded latitudes for St. Augustine
have shown a bracket of 40 minutes. The observations for this definite
position on the Florida coast, the latitude of which can be determined
by present-day accurate methods, has ranged from 2 nautical miles north
of the 30' 08' given by Herrera, for the position observed on Juan Ponce
de Le6n's voyage, to 19 miles south of this same position as arrived at
by the dead reckoning in the previous chapter. it becomes evident that
a single observation of latitude cannot be depended on as accurately
fixing a true position. } The observer obtains an indication of his ap-



proximate location, but must check this against any other information
obtainable before accepting it as fixing his exact position.

It is standard practice for navigators, in fixing a true position, to
plot, on a chart of the waters being navigated, a tentative position ar-
rived at by laying down the c..i.|.. courses steered from the last-known
location, making due all.w:,i : for leeway and for drift due to known
currents. When recording instruments are not available, the distances
run are calculated by estimating the average speed and checking the
time of each run as accurately as may be. An, observation is then taken
and the observed position plotted on the chart. The two probable loca-
"li...i, thus obtained seldom coincide. Theoretically the observer's posi-
tion should be at one or the other of these two probable locations, or
between them. The experienced navigator will then recheck each set of
calculations, giving due weight to circumstances under which the dead
reckoning was computed and the observation taken, and plot his most
probably true position.
In determining the location of Juan Ponce de Le6n's ships when the
observation was taken, and their, movements from that time to where
the first landing on Florida was made, we have the latitude as given by
Herrera, the dead reckoning as calculated from Herrera's account with
allowances made for drift and leeway and the additional advantage of
accurate charts of the locality on which hydrographic data may be
..checked. (72)
In the Spanish of his 1601 edition Herrera states: ".... yendo
diminuyendo el agua hasta nueve bracas, a una legua de tierra, que
estava en treynta grades y ocho minutes. ." [the water going dimin-
hl;i; to nine fathoms, at one league from land, which was in thirty
degrees and eight minutes]-. The use of estava, the imperfect indica--
tive, in this statement is at variance with Herrera's other statements of '
latitudes in this account. For most latitude statements he uses que
estd [which is]. We have no one word English i..l.ii ,1.-nt for estava
(estaba in modern -]..l!"i,). Only part of the Spanish meaning is
conveyed by the English "was." Estaba indicates an action of location
which took place in the past, and may be considered as continuing un-
changed. It also is used for an action taking place at the same time as
some other action; in short, in this case, it jndicates..-the.-obhser-vationi\
was an:l i ,11 .taken on the voyage, not interpolated as the other latitudes/

Two principal factors enter into determining a latitude from ob-
servation of the sun, as was practiced in Juan Ponce de Le6n's time.
First, at local noon, the observer must measure the angular altitude of
the sun; second, he must obtain, from an ephemeris (or from a nautical


almanac) the Sun's declination (angular distance north or south of the
"Equator) for that particular day. An error in either the observation
or the almanac would result in an incorrect latitude.
Two sources of astronomical data were available to navigators of
the 16th century; the Kalendarius, etc., of Regiomontanus, and the
Alphonso of Castile Tables (usually referred to as the "Alphonsine
The actual angular position of the Sun (declination) for any date
prior to the publication of modern nautical almanacs may be computed
from the Sun's longitude, on the date in question, and the obliquity of
the ecliptic. In checking the Regiomontanus Kalendarius for the date
of April 2, 1513, it is found that the Sun's declination as given for'that
date is in error 9 minutes. This correction, applied to the 30 08'
stated by Herrera, reduces it to 290 59'.
However, it seems most probable that Spanish navigators would
obtain their astronomical data from the Tables of Alphonso of Castile.
While these tables do not directly give the Sun's declination, they do
give data from which it may be computed. Errors in the tables will, of
course, be reflected in the computations based on them. In a check
made of the Alphonsine Tables values for the angle of the ecliptic were
obtained ranging from 230 30' to 230 54' which, when used in com-
puting the Sun's declination for April 2, 1513, show an error ranging
from 9 to 18 minutes. (73) This error would be subtractive from the
300 08' given by Herrera, indicating Juan Ponce's observation was
taken at some point between 290 59' and 290 50'.
As a mathematical proposition, one might assume the mean of .these
values, 290 .54.5', as the position of greatest probability. ,There is,
however, the position of 29 49' obtained by a carefully checked dead
reckoning to be considered. If a mean is taken between the dead -
reckoning position and 30 08' corrected by the demonstrable error of
Regiomontarius Kalendarius (i.e., the mean between 290 49', and 290
59'), the position in.lic.lted is 290 54', which is the true latitude of St.
Augustine Inlet..But going back- to the Alphonsine Tables, and the',
position of greatest probability obtained by applying the mean' of their
errors to 30 08', (i.e., 290 54.5') ; if we take a mean between this and
the dead reckoning position, the result is 29 51.75', about 24 nautical
miles below the St. Augustine Inlet.
To sum up, we have a given latitude which can be mathematically
shown to be in error from 9 to 18 minutes by errors in ephemeris alone.
.Every correction applied to this latitude moves it nearer to the position
obtained by dead reckoning. We are, therefore, justified in giving the
dead reckoning a weight equal to that given to a mean of the mathe-



matical corrections and assuming a point half way between them as the
ia '-t approach to the true position at which the observation was takefi.
We place Juan Ponce de Le6n's ships at N. Latitude 290 51.75' at
a league (3.43 nautical miles) from shore, in 9 fathoms of water, at
apparent local noon on April 2, 1513. From there we continue with
Herrera's account: they ran along the coast seeking port, and
anchored that night near to land in eight fathoms of water .. "
As the port would be visible to the lookout from any position be-
tween 290 59' and 290 49' when his ship was a league from the coast,
the buscando, puerto [seeking port] of Herrera indicates they were
seeking entrance to a port known to exist. The direction of the run,
from the observation point to the anchorage, is not stated. In order to
anchor "near to land. in eight fathoms of water" they would have to
proceed northward, as the only place in this vicinity where eight
fathoms depth is found near to shore is just above 300 latitude.
Good seamanship would give the "seeking" to the brigantine. Be-
ing of shallow draft, more easily handled than the larger vessels, she
would run in close to shore and proceed northward, taking soundings,
seeking a channel.
The larger vessels would follow a parallel course, but keeping out
near the eight fathom line to avoid grounding on some unknown bank
or sand bar. The channels here are narrow. It would be easy to pass
over them between two casts of the. lead. Evidently they found no en-
trance to the harbor that afternoon, for they anchored outside for the
Next morning it would be evident, from the masthead of any of
the vessels, that they had passed beyond any possible entrance to the
harbor. The brigantine would again take up her "seeking," coming
south close to the coast; and coming in that direction would easily find
El Suazo, the channel shown on old maps as rounding the point of
present Vilano Beach. Following her pilotage, the other vessels would
come into the harbor through the same channel.
The explorersreman~l at their first landing place from l 3rd
t., Sili. Hetritra does not describe the detail of entering the harbor, yet
Iit- iTico:cei\alile that so experienced a navigator as Anton Alaminos
would spend five days anchored in open sea, close to land, where the
first strong ocean breeze would have driven his ships on a lee shore.
What reason was there for this five-day stop? Herrera makes no men-
tion of discoveries which would warrant it.
Reference to the Meteorological Table for Jacksonville, Florida,
Sand vicinity, as pulIi-lhio in the U. S. Coast Pilot, indicates that once


the explorers entered St. Augustine Harbor they might have difficulty
"in leaving it. Wind from North, Northeast, East, or Southeast would
prevent the square-rigged San Cristoval from leaving through either
channel. Winds from other quarters would permit a safe exit. The
table shows, for the month of April, 35 observations of unfavorable
winds as compared with 25 for favorable ones. Of the 60 April ob-
servations, 14 are Southeast, which would make an attempt to leave the
harbor by either channel very hazardous.
What happened during those five days? In describing the landing
Herrera states Juan Ponce went on shore "a tomar lengua y posesidn,"
which may be translated "to take information and possession." Here is
a double application of the verb "tomar." Tomar lengua is a meta-
phorical expression, literally "to take tongue," indicating expectation of
obtaining information by word of mouth. Tomar posesion is a direct
statement, "to take possession." (Herrera makes no mention of an-')
encounter with Indians at this landing, yet the expression he uses in-
dicates the expectation of finding them.) This expectation would be
aroused by seeing the plantings or native huts of the village called Seloy
which would be clearly visible from vessels lying in the harbor; but at
this time of the year the village would be deserted.)

Laudonniere, who landed at this same locality, in 1564, found the
Indians at home and describes their custom of planting crops and then
retiring to the woods to live on game until the crops matured. (74)
The custom is also described by Brinton. (75)
1As Juan Ponce de Le6n spent five days at this first landing place,
and the village of Seloy must have had some water supply, he would
drink in fond hope that this might be the sought-for "fountain." Anton
Alaminos would certainly replenish the water supply of his ships. While
this was in progress Juan Ponce would have ample time to explore the
surrounding area. Being experienced in the ways of Indians, he would
find small clearings planted, surrounded by brush fences to keep out the
I deer, and would be able to judge from the stage of growth that it would
Sbe some days before the natives would return. Indian huts were nothing
pew to him. As there was no encounter with natives and nothing novel
to mention, either no account was written of these five days, or Herrera
eliminated such account as was given.
After taking formal possession, and naming his landing place La
Florida, he left there for further exploration along the coast.
The expression, "naming his landing place La Florida," is used
intentionally. It will be noted that later, in the Herrera account, it is
stated that the explorers questioned natives persistently to learn the


native name for the land they had discovered. Fially the Lucayans
t,., ,l ,, ,,tl ... ....r .i "C... ii', ., I i' l. l,,-_ Y e t th e
I 'IIn I.. l ... 'iit '1.in ei l I.:. ie II-cCl ]~. i, .i mn i r,- L .: ignate St.
Augustine Inlet, and even St. Augustine itself, for many years. There
is no other spot on the Florida coast where this name is given local
application. Map 127 of the British Crown Collection, which is ob-
viously a Spanish base map to which additions have been made in
l-.igli-.l, names St. Augustine Inlet Barra de la Florida and gives its
latitude as 29 50'. A map in the collection of Frederick Dau, pub-
lished in his book, Florida, Old and New, designates St. Augustine
Inlet as "H" and in the legend states, Barra de la Florida, 300 03'. Juan
Diez de la Calle, in his.list of Franciscan 31i-i.!!i-, describes Nombre
de Dios (a mission site well established as being within the present city
limits of St. Augustine) as being a quarter league from La Florida.
Numeroiius other intane ou k.ld h c;ed /these given are sufficient to
show that the Spaniards used La Florida as a local place name. The
persistence of this name, for this location, is a strong indication that
this is the place at which Juan Ponce de Le6n first landed)
The explanation of the name Cauti6, given by Herrera becausesi
the people of it carried their secret parts covered with leaves of palm
woven in the manner of a plait") is sufficient reason for this name being
later rejected by Juan Ponce, and Spaniards generally, and La Florida
adoptedas the name for the whole of Spanish territory along the At-
lantic seaboard. ..


ON leaving La Florida, Friday, April 8, 1513, the Herrera account
states the expedition "ran in the same way [i.e., northward, 'the
same way' as the run from the observation location to the anchorage on
April 2nd] ; and on Saturday they sailed to the South a quarter South-
east; and sailing by the same rhumb, until the twentieth of April, they
discovered some huts of Indians, where they anchored."
Allowing two hours for them to get under way and get out of the
harbor, they would leave N. Latitude 290 54' at 8 A.M. and have ten
diours' sailing time until sunset. The inshore southerly current w..ul.1
make northward progress slow. An average speed of two nautical miles
per hour would take the ships to N. Latitude 300 14', ten nautical miles
south, of the St. John's River entrance; here they would sheer off and
anchor for the night.
There is no mention, in the Herrera account, of the expedition
having reached the St. John's or having seen any indication of the
river's presence. Later descriptions by explorers and travelers leave
little doubt that existence of this river would have been evident to any
observer coming within sight of its bar. (76)
During the day's uninteresting sail Juan Ponce would have time
to consider information he had obtained during the five days spent at
teLa Florida lndin. He would reach the conclusion that farther
south, wherether crops would mature earlier, he miht find the natives\
returned to their coastal villages. Saturday morning he turned toward
the South; subsequent developments proved his judgement correct.
The compass course given for this leg of the voyage is not very
definite. "South a quarter Southeast" may be intended to indicate the
course steered was east of South by one quarter the distance between
South and Southeast-South by East as it would be described in modern
terms. As it is evident that the vessels were keeping within sight of the
coast, and we have a modern chart to go by, this compass course is of no
more than academic interest.
Continuing on this southerly route from April 9th to 20th, the
voyageheld nothing of sufficient interest to warrant recording until on
the latter date some huts of Indians were discovered, and at this place
the explorers anchored.
It is noticeable that no mention is made of seeing natives at this
anchorage, only "some huts of Indians," and there is no mention of a
handing having been made. Evidently the huts were close to shore and


it was possible to determine, from the anchorage, that this village also
was unoccupied.
"And the day following, all three vessels following the sea coast,
they saw a current that, notwithstanding they had a strong wind, they
could not go forward. ." Here was Juan Ponce's first conscious
experience with the Gulf Stream. Although he had crossed it in ap-
proaching the Florida coast, at that time there was no land in sight,
hence no reference point which would make evident the drift caused by
the current. Now, in this second encounter with the greatest of all
ocean currents, the vessels were close to shore and the strengthof the
current very evident. The two vessels which were able to anchor strained
at their cables until these heavy ropes were almost at the breaking point.
The brigantine, being carried backward until it was lost to view, evi-
denced that the current was not just a local one.
Discovery of the Gulf Stream at this point, and later experiences
with it on this voyage, led ultimately to the colonization of Florida and
establishment of the oldest continuing European settlement on the At-
lantic Coast of North America.
Juan Ponce de Le6n did not live to see this result from his ex-
Sploration, and it receives scant mention in published histories concerning
' \ him, yet it may be stated without fear of contradiction that the found-
in; of Augstiue stom- directly from Juan Ponce' first voyge.
he facts are these.
At the time of Florida's discovery Santo Domingo (now Ciudad
Trujillo) was the metropolis of the Indies. Ships sailing from there,
carrying treasure to Spain by the route discovered by Christopher
Columbus, were subject to frequent pirate attacks. Six years after this
voyage of Juan Ponce de Le6n his chief pilot, Anton Alaminos, was in
the employ of Cortez. The Conqueror of Mexico, wishing to send a
rich present of gold to Emperor Charles V., was fearful it would be
captured by pirates. Alaminos, recalling his experiences with the Gulf
Stream while piloting Juan Ponce's vessels, told Cortez of his belief that
this great current might form part of a new sea route to Spain. He
was ordered to try it. Sailing from Vera Cruz, he entered the Gulf
Stream as it leaves the Gulf of Mexico. Stopping at the present loca-
tion of Havana, he continued through Florida Straits and the Bahama
Channel, along the east coast of Florida, sailing north to the latitude of
Bermuda.. Here he turned eastward, crossed the Atlantic to the Canary
Islands and sailed on to Spain, making port in Cadiz. (77)
The discovery n sea route resulted in Santo Domingo
being superseded b Hava as the principal port and ty of the ndes
Treasure from Mexico, Peru, and from the Philippines was brought to


Havana to be carried to Spain by the Bahama Channel route. For a
time the pirates were eluded.
In 1564 the French established Fort Caroline, near the mouth of
the St. John's River, where it would command the Bahama Channel
route. In 1565 the French fort was captured by Pedro Menendez de
Aviles and a Spanish fort established at St. Augustine where it would
'protect the route of Spanish treasure fleets sailing from Havana to
,Cadiz. Thus the founding of the first permanent settlement in Florida
Stems directly from discoveries made on the first voyage of Juan Ponce
de Leon.
Returning to Herrera's account, "He departed from there to a
river where he took water and firewood, and was awaiting the brigan-
tine. Sixty Indians ran here to hinder him. He took one of them for
a pilot, so that he might learn the language." There was also a battle
with the Indians at the place the two vessels anchored when they en-
countered the Gulf Stream. A cross of stone, with an inscription, was
left in the river and "Sunday, the eighth of May, they doubled the Cape
of Florida, which they called Cabo de Corrientes [Cape of Currents]."
Here Herrera interpolates a description of the coast of Florida Keys
northward to Cape Canaveral, which he evidently mistakes for Juan
Ponce's Corrientes and gives the latitude as 280 15'.
The River of the Cross and Cape of Currents will have to be lo-
cated by circumstantial evidence. First by time and distance. The
explorers followed the coast, in a southerly direction, for 11 days;
starting from N. Latitude 30 14'. Assuming they sailed only in day-
light hours, the sailing time would be 132 hours. Southeast and South-
west winds prevail along the east coast of Florida at this time of the
year. Progress would be slow, but, aided to some extent by the inshore
southerly current they should average 18 or 20 miles a day-about 200
miles for the 11 days. This would bring them to N. Latitude 260 57', a
mile north of Jupiter Inlet.
The Coast Pilot states: "Between Fowey Rocks and Jupiter Inlet
the inner edge [of the Gulf Stream] is deflected westward and lies very
close to the shore line." (78) The chart shows that from this point
the axis of the Stream continues almost straight north, while the coast
bears off toward Northwest. The conditions here are such that the
brigantine, "which found itself more at sea," would be quickly carried
northward and out of sight.
This position would place the huts of Indians just below the St.
Lucie River, where the mainland comes out to the ocean. Juan Ponce
would sail down past Jupiter Inlet and encounter the Gulf Stream be-
tween Jupiter and Palm Beach. The Indians, seeing the two vessels


anchored close inshore, where the strength of the current would cause
them to strain at their cables, would come running to the beach and call
to the explorers. (Juan Ponce would go on shore. He and his company
1/would be the first Europeans to make contact with the savage tribe of
Ais. The action of these Indians, in at once trying to take the boat and
arms, is not characteristic of the more civilized Timucuans who in-
habited the territory further north. The location is close to the Ba-
hamas, where, it will be recalled, Juan Ponce learned the name Cauti6
was used for the Florida Peninsula because of the -..,it costume af-
fected by its inhabitants. The illustrated Dutch, Van der AA edition
of Jonathan Dickinson's God's Protecting Providence shows the natives
of this locality wearing the costume of "leaves of palm woven in the
form of a plait" exactly as Herrera describes it. Rio de la Cruz would
be Jupiter Inlet and Cabo de Corrientes the bend in the coast line which
occurs at the present location of Jupiter Light.
After dl..iillii, the Cape of Currents, the cq-.c liti.,- continued
southward along the coast until it reached two islands, one being named
Santa A:I Lt.i, the other Pola. The latitudes given for these islands, 27'
and 2620, are Herrera's interpolations as evidenced by use of the
present indicative. The position given for Santa Marta, where they
took water, is the true latitude of a point five miles north, of Jupiter
Inlet which had already been passed. There are no islands at this lati-
tude. Santa Marta and Pola are mentioned in reverse order, later in
Herrera's account, where he states, "Sunday they arrived at the island
of Acheqamb6y, and passing by Santa Pola and Santa Marta, they ar-
rived at Chesquescha. ..."
It has been generally accepted that Achecamb6y is the present two
Matacumbe Keys, before they were cut in two and that Chesquescha is
that point of land, now occupied by Miami Beach, which Velasco de-
scribes as Tequesta .Point. (79) This would lend probability to the
designation of Virginia Key as being Juan Ponce's Santa M.Vlait.
Neither it nor Santa Pola is mentioned by Velasco in his description of
the Florida coast.
C.iriintuiii. with Herrera's account: "Sui'.l .. .the fifteenth of
May, they ran by the coast of the c(.1:.in of islets ten leagues as far as
two white islets. And to all this ledge of islands and islets thll, gave
the name of the Martyrs, because, seen from a distance, the rocks that
rose seemed to be men who were suffering, and the name has been per-
fect also because of .the many who have been lost in them since, they
are in twenty-six degrees and til' ..it minutes." i4,!re, again, the lati-
ti.l t is interpolated by Herrera and it is too high. The Coast Pilot
describes Florida Keys as beginning at Vinriiina Key about latitude 250
45' and extending to the Marquesas in latitude 24 33''. (80) Part of

.-^---ft S -/- Ez --A
;r^ *


Indians of Ais



Herrera's description paraphrases Fontaneda's, "There are yet other
islands nearer the mainland, stretching between the west and east, called
the Martires; for the reason that many men have suffered on them, and
also because certain rocks rise there from beneath the sea, which, at a
distance, loom like men in distress." It is evident that Herrera took the
descriptive part from Fontaneda, and quite properly, for it was the
latest news from Florida at the time he was writing. He is a little
ambiguous as to who "they" were who gave the chain of keys the name
Los Marlires. However, Juan Ponce had with him the Ais Indian he had |
captured "for a pilot, so that he might learn the language" and the
physical appearance of the islands would be as evident to Ponce de
Le6n and his people as it was to Fontaneda. Martires is a Spanish /
word. The simple explanation seems that the Indian pilot told of this
being a place of suffering and that "they" were Juan Ponce's people.
who named the Keys Los Martires.( They are so. designated on the
Freducci map which is claimed to date long before Fontaneda's time.
Leaving Santa Marta (Virginia Key) on Friday, May 13th, they
passed Pola and "Sunday .the 15th of May they ran 15 leagues to
two white islands .", which seem, from their next course, to have
been the Marquesas. This assumption checks reasonably well with ><
time and distance. The Coast Pilot gives the distance from Virginia
Key to the Marquesas as nearly 145 miles. The Sunday's run of 15
leagues is equivalent to 51.45 miles. If this speed had been obtained on
Friday and Saturday, the ships would have run 154 miles. However,
the prevailing winds for the locality during May are from the East.
(81) This would have made progress a little slow on the first part of
the run, but after turning westward, through Florida Straits where the
Gulf Stream runs close to the coast of Cuba, their speed would have
increased considerably. They may have run a little beyond the Mar-
quesas before altering their course, as a later expression in the Herrera
account indicated that they came within sight of some of the islands in
the Tortugas group.
From the "white islands" they were sailing "sometimes to the north
and others to the northeast until the twenty-third of May, and the
twenty-fourth they ran to the South to some islands which make
out to sea." Here they careened the San Cristoval and had their first
encounter with the Calos Indians.
The compass courses given show that the explorers had rounded the
Marquesas anl were reaching back toward the mainland coast. A run
northward and a short leg to the Northeast would bring them in sound-
ings of 8 to 10 fathoms, where they would head northward again. No-1
speed is given for these courses, but modern charts show Sanibel and


Captiva Islands as the only ones in the vicinity which "make out to
Further on in Herrera's account he tells of their leaving the ap-
proximate location where the San Cristoval was careened "in lookout
for the chain of eleven small islets, that they I.1 t t.. ith. West..
Tuesday, the twenty-first, they reach the chain of islets which they
.med Tortugas. .. ." The name.-Tortugas for these islets still per-
.izt- on modern charts. The elapsed time sailing "North and North-
east was 8 days; they then turned south for a day. The elapsed time-:
from leaving the vicinity of the battle with the Calos'Indians to the
arrival at Tortugas is seven days. It is apparent that Juan Ponce de
Le6n did not explore Florida's western coast more than a day's sail
above Sanitel Island.
There is additional circumstantial evidence that the vicinity of
Sanibel is the northern limit of Juan Ponce's exploration. After
"awaiting a wind to go in search of the Cacique C'ai.--.." from Friday,
June 4th, until Tuesday the fourteenth, and evidently getting no fa-
vorable wind, "they returned to the island where they took water, and
which they called Matanza for the Indians that they killed." Bernal
Diaz, in his Historia, Verdadera, mentions being on this part of Florida's
coast, with the Cordova expedition, where they landed near an estero,
and the pilot (who was Anton Alaminos who piloted the voyage of
Juan Ponce) said it was the same place Juan Ponce de Le6n had been /
and where they fought with the Indians. (82) On modern charts
Estero Island appears just below Sanibel, with. Matanzas Passage
shown as a narrow channel between it and the mainland. It appears that
with the passage of time the name given by Juan Ponce to the Island
has been transferred to the passage, while Estero (which is Spanish for
a small creek into which the tide flows) has been given to the Island.
.". Another circumstance indicating this locality as one visited by Juan
Ponce de Le6n is the name Sanibel. On old maps it is spelled San-
Ybel, which is a contraction of Santa Ysabel. The time of Juan Ponce's
nv'age was but a few years after QueenLIsahella's--death. She had
l..n greatly revered by all Spaniards during her lifetime and after her
Death was frequently referred to as "Our Queen in Heaven." Juan
Ponce de Le6n named one of his daughters Y-..l1.c. and it seems quite
Probable he also gave the name to this island.


L EAVING the territory of the Calos Indians, after returning to
Matanza [Estero Island] -where they'took water, the explorers
sailed to the Tortugas where they took a fresh meat supply of 170
turtles and 14 Loboss narinos" [sea wolves] which may have been
either seal or manatee, and on Friday, June 24th, they set sail on a
compass course Southwest a quarter West, which, had they been able to
follow it, would have brought them to the western end of Cuba. Sun-
day they sighted land. Running along the coast to examine it, they
found a harbor.
It is evident that an observation was taken at this point in the
voyage, although Herrera does not mention it, for "they found them-
selves 18 long leagues off the route for it to be Cuba." The Gulf
Stream had again been encountered, at this locality flowing east with a
current speed of 1i4 to 2Y2 nautical miles per hour. In the 48 hour
run, from Friday morning to Sunday morning, the current would have
carried them about 75 miles eastward, bringing them to Cuba's north
coast a little east of the present location of Havana and making the
harbor which they found, the following Wednesday, Matanzas.
The latitude 'of Cape San Antonio, at the western end of Cuba,
where their compass course should have brought them, is 210 52', while
that of Matanzas is 23 02', a difference of 1' 10'. It must be remem --
bered that navigators of the time had no way of determining longitude,
so the explorers would not have been able to calculate how far they had
been carried eastward by the Gulf Stream. A latitude difference of 1
10' is equivalent to 70 nautical miles. The Spaniards figured 17/2
leagues to a degree of latitude. The "eighteen long leagues" which
they found themselves off their course would be more than 62 miles and
strongly indicates the harbor found was Matanzas, Cuba.
On Friday, the first of July, they left Cuba "in search of the
Martires; Sunday they arrived at the island of Achecamb@y; and pass-
ing by Santa Pola and Santa Marta, they arrived at ( he-.'li.-cli:, they
navigated up to some islands that are in the banks of the Lucayos more
to the west, and anchored in them the eighteenth of July .they are
in twenty-eight degrees."
Whether Juan Ponce de Le6n actually stopped at either Matacumbe,
Tequesta Point, or Tequesta Village is not ilFiiit ly stated in Herrera's
account. Does he mean they stopped at Matacumbe and Tequesta, or,
in saying "they arrived" is he simply indicating points of progress in a


continuous passage from Cuba to the islands where they anchored the
eighteenth of July?
Herrera is known to have had access to Fontaneda, as marginal
notes in his handwriting appear on Fontaneda's manuscript. He also
had access to Velasco. They were contemporaries, Herrera the Royal
YJHistorian; Velasco the Royal Geographer. Velasco says, "La isla
grande y larga, que estd al fin de los Martires, es tambien poblada de
indios como los otros, cuyo cacique se llama Matacumbe." [The large
and long island, which is at the end of the Martyrs, is also populated
with Indians like the rest, whose chief is called Matacumbe.] ('3) If
Herrera means the same island, why does he call it Achecambey?
Fontaneda says, ". las yslas de haCia el norte fenesen estas ysles
Junto A un lugar de yndios que an nombre tequesta questa A vn lado
de vn rrio que dentra hasia la tierra dentro. ...." [. .. the islands of
the Martyrs, toward the North these islands end close to a place of
Indians that have the name of Tequesta which is at one side of a river
which enters toward the interior of the land. .. .] (84) Velasco says,
"En la mesma punta de Tequesta, entra en el mar un rio dulce que viene
de la tierra adentro junto d 1l, de la parte del norte, estd el pueblo
de indios que se dice Tequesta, de donde se dice aisi la punta." [In the
same point of Tequesta, enters in the sea a sweet river that comes from
within the land close to it, on the northern part, is the village of
Indians called Tequesta, from which the point is so called.] With botl-h
these identical spellings available, why does Herrera spell it Chesqueschi,
if he means the same place? The reason seems that he is copying from
a documentary account of Juan Ponce de Le6n's voyage; and it is far
from certain that he is naming the Matacumbe and Tequesta which
Velasco and Fontaneda describe.
Some support for assuming that Ponce de Le6n stopped at Tequesta
might be derived from a map of Juan Elixio de la Puente, reproduced
in La Florida of Ruidiaz y Caravia. This map of de la Puente, for he
made many, is a copy of one found by him in the Hydrographic Office
in Havana. The original, by Fernando Martinez, is reproduced in The
Defenses of Spanish Florida, Chatelain. (85) On this map the ex-
treme southern point of the Florida peninsula is designated by the
letter F, and in the Legend is "F-Caveza de los Martires, inclusos sus
Cayos, 6 Cabo de Florida, que descubrio Juan Ponce de Ledn, en la que
desembarcd el aifo de 1512 y tambidn tomd posesion por el Rey de
Espaia, poblada su costa de Indios de la Nacidn Tequesa que oy se
dicen Indios Costas." [F-Head of the Martyrs, its Keys included, or
Cape of Florida, which Juan Ponce de Le6n discovered, on which he
disembarked the year 1512 and also he took possession for the King of
Spain, its coast is populated by Indians of the Tequesa (sic) Nation


who are now called Coast Indians.] (86) The date of this map is
about 1765. At first glance this statement might be considered to mean
than Juan Ponce landed at Tequesta; further consideration will bring
out that it describes the whole section of the coast, including the head
of the Martyrs and the Keys.
Velasco says Matacumbe is the head of the Martyrs. Fontaneda
says Tequesta is the head; the Coast Pilot says the head is Virginia
Key. It will be recalled that Juan Ponce landed at Santa Marta, on
his way south, which we have identified as Virginia Key, where he took
water, and left on the 13th of May. Apparently these statements on the
Martinez Map have no connection with what Juan Ponce de Le6n did
in July. If he took possession, again, at Santa Marta, it is not men-
tioned by Herrera; but he may have done so, as he must have known he
was getting close to territory which might be claimed by Diego Colum-
bus, and Juan Ponce was a prudent man. (87)
W/ e must look for some other proof that Achecamb6y and Mata-
cumbe are the same. Setting sail from Matanzas, Cuba, "in search of
the Martires" the course would have been laid North, or even west of
North, if the explorers were intent on reaching Key West. The Gulf
Stream, running close to the northern coast of Cuba, would have carried
them east of their compass course and as it makes the turn toward north
along the Keys would have carried them with it. The distance from
Matanzas Light to Alligator Reef Light (which is central between
present Upper and Lower Matacumbe Keys), is by latitude and depart-
ture, 120 nautical miles. They leave Cuba on Friday and arrive at
Achecamb6y on Sunday. This gives a sailing time of at least 48 hours
and an average speed of 2' miles per hour, if Achecambey is Mata-
cumbe. As the speed of the Gulf Stream, at this locality ranges from'-
1'% to 22 miles per hour, it seems probable they were bucking the cur-
rent, trying to reach Key West, but were carried so far east of their
course that Matacumbe would be the first one of the Keys sighted.
Arriving off this key on July 3rd, they would find it a bad place to
anchor. The anchorage would not appeal to Anton Alaminos. The Ais
Indian pilot would undoubtedly give the place a bad name as wars be-
tween Ais and Tequesta Indians were frequent.
It may therefore be considered Herrera's "Sunday they arrived at
the island of Achecambey" means this was the first land they arrived in
sight" of after crossing Florida Straits. Passing Santa Pola and Santa
Marta, "they arrived at ChesqueschA," which, if this is to be considered
a variant spelling of Tequesta, must have been Tequesta Point, not the
Village, as to arrive at the Village site would require entering Biscayne


S...-He.re the, Ais Indian-pilot, 'or "the women c::iptu.lt11 at Matanza
(Estero Island), would point to the East and say "Bimini." Can it be
believed that Juan Ponce would stop at Tequesta? Although he had
discovered Fl.:.ri.la. he had not lost interest in finding Bimini as is shown
by later statements in the Herrera account. Wind and weather per-
mitting, it -rc-tiu certain he would turn to the East.
The weather table for the vicinity of Miami shows that East and
Southeast winds prevail in July. However, almost 10', of the winds
are from Southwest, which would be a fair wind for the San Cristoval
on an eastward compass course. (88) On this compass course the ,
vessels would at once encounter the Gulf Stream and while the South-
west wind was driving them eastward the current would be c-irr' in.
them north.
The distance from Tequesta Point (present Miami Beach) to the
two Bimini Islands is 45 nautical miles. Assuming an eastward speed
of 2 miles per hour, it would take 2215 hours to make a direct eastward
crossing. The Gulf Stream, in this vicinity, has a maximum speed of
3.5 miles per hour at its axis, but this speed decreases to 1.7 miles at the
eastern edge. An average current speed of 2.5 miles per hour is esti-
mated for thle Cr..--ie. In the 22.5 hours the current would carry the
explorer's vessels 56 miles north of their compass course. The latitude
of Tequesta Point is 250 48'. Adding to this the 56 miles of drift
(equivalent to 56 minutes of latitude), places them inf N. Latitude 260
44', at which place they emerge from the Gulf Stream and are just west
of the shoals of Little Bahama Bank. From this point they would con-
tinue eastward, carried a little northeast of their compass course by the
Southwest wind, and cross the edge of Little Bahama Bank between
Sand Key and Memory Rock. The date would be, probably, July 6th.
Here they would be in soundings with a water depth of 2 to 3
fathoms, but with many shallows and crooked channels. Only daylight
a iliig would be possible. Having no chart of the waters, they would
be forced to feel their way, sending the brigantine ahead to explore a
I..a--:ug for the two larger vessels. With a water depth often less than
12 to 18 feet, at times they would have to await high tide to avoid run-
ning the San Cristoval aground. Under these circumstances it is not
surprising that they did not find the island they named La Vieja until
the 18th of July. Here disappointment awaited them, for the "old
Indian woman they i. un. I" there would tell them that Bimini was not in '
that direction.
"The twenty-fifth of July they went out from the islets, in lookout
for Bimini, ni;i.ati'nr among islands they thought to be overflowed,
and being stopped, not knowing where to pass with the vessels, Juan


Ponce sent a boat to reconnoiter an island he took to be overflowed, and
found it to be Bahama, and thus the old woman gave it, that they
carried, and Diego Miruelo, pilot, whom they encountered with a vessel
from Hispaniola. ." The description exactly fits the keys along th,
northern end of Little Bahama Bank and the eastern end of Bahama
Island. What a shock this must have been to Juan Ponce. Here was
Miruelo, undoubtedly in the service of Diego Columbus, and very likely(
also hunting for Bimini. /
"They went out Saturday, the sixth of August, for where they had
gone and until finding the deep they ran Northwest a quarter West to
an island of rocks alone at the edge of the deep, they changed the course,
running by the edge of the bank to the South. They changed this
course the next day, although Bimini was not in that way, and for fear
of the currents, that another time were throwing the vessels to the
coast of Florida, or Cauti6 (as they then said) they turned their route
to the Island of San Juan de Puerto Rico."
The description indicates that they returned to Memory Rock,
which is "an island of rocks alone at the edge of the deep," and then,
being advised by the old woman, they turned South toward the Bimini
Islands. Diego Miruelo was accompanying them, in his own vessel.
Evidently they made a wide turn and got out into the edge of the Gulf
Stream. Not wishing to be carried again to Cauti6, and above all not
wilhil,. to take Miruelo with them to Bimini, Juan Ponce turned into
North West Providence Channel as offering the shortest route back
The return voyage, from this point, was a slow one. Going down
through the Bahamas a hurricane was encountered and Miruelo's ship
was sunk, "although the people were saved." Stormy weather held
them in the Bahamas until late in September. During this period of' 1
inaction, Juan Ponce had time to ponder on what to do about Bimini,
and, when the storms were over, he divided his squadron. Sending
Ortubia and Alaminos to continue the search for Bimini, he took
Miruelo with him and hastened to Puerto Rico, where he arrived on
October 15, 1513.


A RRIVING at Puerto Rico, Ponce de Le6n awaited the return of
Ortubia and Alaminos who a few days later came home with the
Report that they had found Bimini, but not the Fountain. Due to the
encounter with Miruelo, and the possibility that Diego Columbus might
claim governorship of Bimini as an island his father had discovered,
/Juan Ponce considered it best to present his claims at Court in per-
son. (89)
On his arrival in Spain the explorer found Pero Nufiez de Guzman,
whom in his youth he had served as a page, now Grand Master of the
Order of Calatrava and in high favor at Court. With Pero Nufiez'
assistance Ponce de Le6n obtained a personal audience with the King.
At this time Ferdinand was ruling partly in his ownrright, as King
of Aragon, and partly as regent for his insane daughter, Juana, and her
infant son, Charles. It is this son who soon became Charles I of Spain
and in a few years Emperor Charles V. Documents of the period refer
to Ferdinand as His Highness, not His Majesty as they did during the
lifetime of Isabella; but Ferdinand still signs State papers as "Yo el
Rey" [I the King].
Ferdinand was evidently favorably imnresed by Florida's Dis-
coverer. As a reward for his discoveries Juan was knighted and given
a personal Coat of Arms a shield partedexter, on a field azure three
islands in waves of the sea, representingPuerto ida and
i Bmini; the other quarter displays the uncrowned red lion rampant of
SLen on a field of silver. He was now entitled to use the "don" before
Ihis name. In subsequent documents he is styled The Adelantado don
Juan Ponce de Le6n, Governor of the Island of Bimini and Florida.
H-- was the first to bear this title. A new capitulation was given him in
which additional instructions were given regarding the settlement of
,Florida and the time for making such settlement was extended. (90)

Perhaps these honors heaped upon him, after so many trials and
Disappointments, swelled Juan Ponce's pride to unseemly proportions.
S"Comiplaints had come to Court of raids on the natives of Puerto Rico by
cannibal Caribes from the Island of Guadaloupe, a Carib custom of
long standing. Juan Ponce had broken it up during his short term as
Governor of Puerto Rico. He had even established a plantation on
Santa Cruz, another Carib island stronghold.
/ According to Peter Martyr', Ponce de Le6n boasted of his ability
Sto subdue the cannibal savages. (91) Bearing the same date as that


/ofhis confirmation as Adelantado of Bimini and Florida, a Royal
SCdula was issued commanding him to undertake an expedition against
the arises ot Guadaloupe. He was to leave Valladolid, where the
Court ten was, and proceed to Seville. Here he would hold conversa-
tions with the Officials of the House of Trade for the'Indies to deter-
mine what ships and men would be necessary for such an expedition.
Gold from Mexico and Peru had not yet commenced to flow into
the Spanish treasury. The comparatively small amounts coming from
Hayti and Puerto Rico were insufficient to finance the many expeditions
planned. Juan Ponce was directed to prepare an-arranada'atA least
cost that can be, because the House is plundered and there are nany
other things to provide."
In accordance with international law of those days, prisoners taken
Sin "fair war," if not ransomed, could be sold as slaves. The Cedula
issued Juan Ponce advanced a plan by which the expedition against the
Caribes might be provided with a fighting force and even, perhaps, made
to yield a profit to the Crown. It is typical of bureaucratic plans
formed without knowledge of local conditions. In order to secure en-
listments the House of Trade and Ponce de Le6n-we-rejointly-authorized
to offer prospective personnel __ne~i nf L .....the. selling .price of the
C.iril. hl, th li..t capture. Payment was to be made on delivery and
public sale in Santo Domingo or Cuba. There seems to have been a
slight misgiving as to just how appealing this proposition would be, for
in event of there being no enlistments, proffers might be made of a
small wage in addition to a third of the slave sale profits. (92) A
commission was issued appointing Juan Ponce Captain of the Armada.
ThejoLker- *inhis m li ~ch e 'as--that--no. one in Santo Domingo or
Cuba, hi- rii .ht .n-:-'. w.,ul, 1id a ,rii :',, r :, Caril' As slaves
\these sullen savages were more of a liability than an asset. Once cap-
tured they became sullen and would perfroi'r no useful service unless
driven to it with the whip. To be controlled they must be kept in
/chains. -Even when chained, at the first opportunity they would escape,
hide in some mountain cave, and patiently fret away the iron of their
f tters with a stone until they were free.
However, having received the Royal command and being required
to make the effort before he could return to Florida, Juan Ponce as-
Ssembled a force and set out. Those who enlisted were probably more
interested in getting a free passage to the Indies than with hope of
profit from the sale of Caribes.
The expedition sailed from Cadiz in the fall of 1514, stopping as
was customary at the Canaries for water and firewood. After an un-


eventful voyage a landfall was made on Guadaloupe. Under -i.I, I
guard of soldiers, laundresses went on shore to wash sheets and shirts.
Evidently it was Juan Ponce's intention to make no attack at this time,
but to obtain clean linen and fresh water before proceeding to Puerto
Rico, Hayti, or Cuba where he might enlist more experienced soldiers
and obtain dogs trained in hunting natives.
The wily Caribes of Guadaloupe were not overlooking this oppor-
tunity to obtain a change of diet. Silently creeping through the jungle,
they surrounded the laundresses and their guard. In-a .sudden rush the
S .l'.l!li:lr.1 \ ,'C_ > ,>: |.! L'_.,.:l ,i.1 _.; i. 1 .' I,, ,.ft_" ,, I l,,' i iitl .;. r -O f I'.- T -1;Ln'l
N.. -.,.rl.u- :ititmlpi tc. :ll-,ct a rescue was made. Juan Ponce was too
experienced in Indian warfare to risk more of his force by leading an
expedition into the forests of Guadaloupe with no Indian scouts and
trained dogs. He sailed on to Puerto Rico. (94)
While in Spain, Ponce de Le6n had been given an exclusive license
to war against Caribes. (95) He had also been commissioned Cap-
tain of the Island of San Juan de Puerto Rico. (96) There seem to
have been no further complaints of Carib raids; so it may be assumed
he took measures to protect Puerto Rico rather than to subdue Guada-

The new capitulation, given Juan Ponce while in Spain, modified
his original contract for the discovery of Bimini in several respects-,
The terms of the original contract required him to set sail within a
year from the date of its acceptance by him and to complete the dis-
covery within three years. The new document named both Florida and
Bimini, and in recognition of his employment on other services to the
Crown, extended the time for settlement to three years "from the day
on which he shall embark to go to the said islands." It also contained
the notorious requirimiento which it states "is ordered by many learned
in>i'" and signed by the Very Reverend Father in Christ Bishop of
Burgos Archbishop of Rosano our Pvincii-al Chaplain and of our
"' T6l- i, *:, ,,,;, jiv ,\. tigne for conYigrsiono f the
natives to Catholicism, but in etf -,:t Il l nit i atlln i Ith.-I t iI. If. r nm:king
: 1\': 11" ,, t -. -t"-:'-- .il >: i.l' !!io. '_ t 1111 a- -laT^ -. It u .i. a lirief
Ir'c^t_ i .,i ,n ,-.I'I _'n i- i ll \\,I, c lli.ci tlic. w'-rc r .L |ii,:,l ll '., l at
once accept. The document was to be read three times, in the presence
of two or more notaries if available. In Ctlmr.. niic the notaries might
be dispensed with and the "best and most creditable witnesses" sub-
stituted. In other Spanish colonies many natives were sold into slavery
through this device. In Florida it never became effective, as the Florida


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First Page of Second Capitulation for Discovery of Bimini and Florida





Emperor Charles V (King Charles I of Spiain)


Indians obligingly started war on their own initiative and few were
Accompanying the new capitulation were the "Ordinances for
Florida and Bimini" written in the name of the mad Queen Juana.
These are the first laws written for Florida. (97)
On return to Puerto Rico, after the unfortunate incident with the
Caribes of Guadalope, Juan Ponce de Le6n had many pressing affairs
to attend to, not least of which was an appeal from the sentence, given
by Velasquez, in his residencia held in 1512. At that time Velasquez
had sentenced Juan Ponce to pay a stiff fine, refused his request for
appeal, and Ponce de Le6n was compelled to pay a large sum of gold
into the Royal Treasury. (98)
Now came a time of great political changes in Spain. On January
23, 1516, King Ferdinand died, leaving three wills. In all of them his
insane daughter, Juana, was named as his heir. In the latest one, as
governor for Juana's son, young Prince Charles (then in Flanders) in
event he should not come at once to Spain, the Archbishop of Sarragosa
was appointed to govern Aragon and the Cardinal of Spain, Ximines,
to govern Castile. In 1517 Prince Charles did come to Spain and estab-
lish himself on the throne as Charles I., bringing with him a number of
councillers from Flanders. Many chni:-,g, were now made in political
appointments; among them the Licentiate Antonio de la Gama was sent
to Puerto Rico to replace, and take the residencia of, Sancho Velasquez.

SJuan Ponce de Le6n, though mourning the recent death of his
'ife, was not slow to avail himself of the opportunity, granted by
Spanish law, to make complaint against any official act of a retiring
official, even a Chief Justice. On August 27, 1519, he authorized Pedro
Cefteio to represent him as attorney; on September 13th the suit was
commenced before Judge de la Gama. The papers in this suit are of
great historical interest, as are those of Velasquez's appeal from de la
Gama's decision, as they establish many dates of importance inthe life
of Ponce de Le6n and give details of the exploration and settlement of
Puerto Rico. (99)

Velasquez took advantage of all delays possible under Spanish law,
but, on March 5, 1520, a sentence was given that the fine !i.l by Juan
Ponce must be returned; but each litigant was to l.pa his .\'n c..-.
When Velasquez appealed, Cedefio played a trump by citing ti-- "Law
of Corregidors" which required the amount of the fine to be deposited
before an appeal could be received. The papers finally went to Spain.
They bear an endorsement saying that Velasquez paid back the fine to
Juan Ponce de Le6n on April 2, 1520.

S.- -T"


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Letter to Emperor Charles V with Signatu e of Juan Ponce de Le6n;
announcing his intention to start on hi("cond voyage to Florida
r"., Sn .^ *^



B EGINNING of the year 1521 found Juan Ponce de Le6n with his
Personal and family affairs in such condition that there was nothing
requiring his continued presence in Puerto Rico. His son, Luis, was,
established in Santo Domingo. (103) His daughters were all mar-
ried. His wife was dead. (104) The home was vacant save for an
ageing man and his servants.
Disquieting news had come regarding Florida, no longer believed
oto be an island but proven to be part of a large continent. Lucas de
(Allyon had landed on its shores some distance north of Juan Ponce's
own land fall at Barra de la Florida. Grijalva had sailed along its -
Gulf Coast. Cordova, piloted by Anton Alaminos, who had been Juan
(Ponce's pilot, had been driven by a storm to the estero at Matanza
Sand both he and Alaminos had been wounded by Indians of the same
tribe Juan Ponce had fought with.
The young Emperor Charles, largely under control of his Flemish
councillers, was giving offices and grants to their friends. It was time
for action if Juan Ponce de Le6n wished to retain his title as Adelantado
of Florida and Bimini.
On February 25, 1521, nine years and two days after King Ferdi-
nand, now dead, had signed that first capitulation, Juan Ponce wrote
two letters. One was to the Emperor, the other to Cardinal Tortosa
who was later to become Pope Adrian. This letter to the Cardinal con-
tains references to family affairs not included in that to Charles V, but
both announce the Adelantado's intention to start for Florida within a
few days. (105)
Now about 60 years old, there seems to have been no doubt in
Ponce de Le6n's mind of his ability to stand the hardships of this new
. venture. This was to be no romantic quest for a fabulous fountain,
but a serious attempt to found a permanent settlement. But for an
unfortunate accident this attempt might have succeeded and the honor
of founding the first permanent European settlement in the present con-
tinental United States would have been added to the fame of Juan Ponce
de Le6n instead of ',rin._ ,eserved for Pedro Menendez de Avil6s.
Accounts, by contemporary historians, of this second voyage of
Ponce de Le6n to Florida leave much unstated and are obviously in-
accurate in date. Las Casls, companion of Juan Ponce's early days in
the wars of Higuey, now grown old and bitter, confuses the second
voyage with the first in time, disturbed concerning the Indians more
than by the death of his former friend.


lie says: "He [Juan Ponce] returned from Castile very much
favored, with title of Adelantado and Governor of Bimine, which he
called by nn.ari r natne, la Florida. .
"Arrived at the Island of San Juan, he took from there, from his
estates, all that he had need of and came to this island and port of
Santo Domingo where he refitted with men and ships. He departed
from this port the year five hundred and twelve [1512] and went to
his Bimine. And he wished to enter into the land, as he had entered
into these islands and the new ones, by an assault which those we have
said made further down in that same land. All of those regions must
have been full of people and uprisen. Those of Bimine defended their
native land all they could. And, fighting with their few arms and feeble
forces, among the first they wounded Juan Ponce, Adelantado and
Governor, with an arrow. It appears that, :llhh.u-l-h they do not have a
poisonous plant in the land, the wound was in such a place that he,
hi ii-elf, judged it to have danger, for which he commanded that all be
collected to the ships and they leave the land and carry him to the
i Island of Cuba; which is the nearest land to where they were. In
arriving at it, and I believe, if I have not forgotten, at the port which
now is called el Principe, which is in the said island, he passed from
this life spent in such labor. And in this manner [he] lost the body,
spent a great sum of golden pesos, which as I said, he had gathered with
many deaths and sorrowful and bitter lives of Indians. And [he] felt
very great labors going, and c..ioiin. to Castile, and to discover, and to
wish to settle; and the soul we do not know where it has gone. And
thus ended the Adelantado of Bimine with all the others." (106)
Oviedo gives more detail of the expedition and does not consider
the Indians of Florida so unarmed and feeble. He is equally in error
regarding the year of Juan Ponce's second voyage to Florida, as will
be seen in the translation of his account which follows:
"As is said in Book 16 of the first part of these Histories, Juan
Ponce de Le6n had conquered and pacified the Island of Borinquen,
which is now called San Juan. And in that Island, by his industry and
profits he came to be a very rich man and to have much cattle, cows,
sheep, swine, and mares. And he had collected much gold from mines
and had gathered so much goods that he could have passed [the re-
mainder] of this life very well; and even helped others in their miseries.
And as he was noble and a man of genteel and high thoughts, it ap-
peared to him that removing him from the office of government of the
Island of San Juan, as he was removed from it by the diligence and
sagacity of his rivals, that he could not be, or live, content where others
commanded him. And thus for this, as well as for employing his time
well, and thinking that with it and his money, of which he had plenty,


serving God and the King he could double it and make it much more,
and increase his person in titles of honor and estate.

"And for this effect or, saying it better, by this his fortune which
had awaited him since he discovered Bimine and the King gave him the
title of Adelantado for what he had spent and served in his Armadas,
and seeking that fountain of Bimine which the Indians,had given to be
understood would renovate, resprout, and refresh the age and forces ofi
he who drank or bathed himself in it; and how all that had ended in1
vanity, in which a thing so fabulous and mendacious must end, he saw
that he had been hoaxed and badly informed. Not tired by either the
expenditures or labors, he returned to arm' with more determination
and expense. And he provided and put in order certain ships, to enter\
into the mainland on the North border, on that coast and point which
enters 100 leagues of longitude into the sea, and little more or less thanJ
50 of latitude.
"And it appeared to him that in addition to that which might be
obtained and known in the islands which are there, other secrets and
important things also could be known in the mainland. And [he
thought] to convert those people to God, with great utility to his person
in particular and generally for those who went with him; these were
200 men and 50 horses in the said ships.
"To render this Armada effective he spent much. He went to that
land in the month of [blank in original] of the year 1520. And as a
good settler he took with him mares, calves, swine, sheep, goats, and all
manner of dos'es-ic tnms useeful to tfservice of man. Also for
agriculture and working the fields there were provided all [kinds of]
seeds; as if the business of its [Florida's] settlement was nothing more
t-aniTto arrive and cultivate the land and pasture his cattle.
"But the climate of the region was very different and not in accord
with that which he imagined. And the natives of that land were a
very rough people, very savage, belicose, ferocious, and indomitable.
And they were not accustomed to quiet; nor so easily leaving their
liberty in the discretion and will of other men, nor in the election of
those Friars and clerics who went in his company for exercise of the
Divine Cult and service of the Church. Though they might preach all
they wished, neither they, nor he that brought them, could be under-
stood by them [the natives] with the brevity they imagined, if God in his
absolute power did not cause them to be understood by these barbarous
peoples; savage idolators, filled with sin and vices.
"I wish to say that although in truth all which appears full of
difficulty is an easy work for God when it pleases him. It is well for
us to reflect that we are not worthy of this facility, that such trout can-


not be taken with dry feet, and to wish that first the fishermen reform,
so that those who. follow them may fall into a knowledge of the truth.
Nothwithstanding that religious persons, and of good doctrine, went
with this Captain, because all erred the Armada and the Captain were
lost, together with them the time and treasure, and all in a few days.
It is [cause] to reflect that God was not .ce-vedl. n..r Ihe time arrived
for the conversion of that Province to our 1-IA C;atil.c Faith, for He
permitted the Devil yet to hold them deceived, and 'for his, and to in-
crease the infernal population with their souls.
"This armada arrived at that land in the year that is said, and at
once, as they disembarked, the Adelantado Juan Ponce, like a prudent
man gave orders that the people of his armada should rest themselves.
And when they appeared so he moved with his people and entered a
land in a skirmish or battle which he had with the Indians. As he was
a spirited captain he found himself among the first; and not so dexterous
in that land as [he had been] in the Islands. So many and such
enemies charged him that his people and force were not sufficient to
resist them. And in the end they routed and killed part of the Chris-
tians and more than double [the number] of Indians died. And he
came out badly wounded with an arrow and decided to go to the island
of Cuba, to cure himself if he could, and to return to this conquest with
more people and power. And thus he embarked and arrived at that
Island, at the Port of Havana, where after arrival he lived little; but
he died like a Catholic and received the sacraments." (107)

Herrera treats Ponce de Le6n's second voyage very briefly. Oc-
cupied at this time in writing of the great exploits of Cortez, in the
conquest of Mexico, the Royal Historiographer devotes little space to
Juan Ponce. \The facts he does give are accurate as to the year of the
second voyage and number of ships, although he is still in error regard-
ing the year in which the first voyage was made. Under the date 1521,
after stating that the exploits of Cortez had aroused the principal cap-
tains of the Indies to emulation, he cgntibues:
"One of these was the Adelantado Juan Ponce de Le6n, who since
the year twelve [1512] that he discovered the Florida, and traveled
seeking that fountain Santatan (108), named among the Indians, and
the River whose waters made youthful the old, and since the Caribes
of the Island of Guadaloupe maltreated him, had retired. Now he
determined to arm, in the Island of San Juan de Puerto Rico where he
had his home, two vessels, in which he spent a great part of his estate.
He went with them to the Florida, which was yet taken for an island,
to prove to himself by passage if it was Mainland, as he says in his
letters that he wrote in this year to the Emperor, to the Cardinal


Juan Ponce de Leon, wounded, is carried on board his ship


Adriano governor of these Realms in that season, and to the secretary
Samano. (109)
"And arrived to take land in the Florida, having passed much labor
in the navigation, the Indians came out to resist him. And fighting
with him obstinately, they killed him some people. And wounded in a
thigh, with that which remained, he returned to Cuba, where he fin-
ished his days ." (110)
It will be noted-that none of these accounts give any detail as to
where Ponce de Le6n landed on this second voyage; however, Velasco
supplies this information. In his Hydrography and Description of the
Coast of Florida he states:
/~SThe bay of'Carlos, which in the Indian tongue' is called Escampa-
ha, for a cacique of that name who afterward was called Carlos in
devotion to the Emperor, seems to be the same which is called of Juan
once because he disembarked in it in the year 15 [1515] where he lost
his people and the Indians wounded him, of which he died. It is in
/6 and Y2 degrees large. Its entrance is very narrow and full of banks
so that only boats can enter. Within is a space about four or five
leagues in circuit, although all overflowed [i.e., shallow]. In the center
is a little island which in circuit, to sail around, is about half a league,
with other islets around it, in which the cacique Carlos had his seat and
now his successors have theirs. ." (111)
On modern charts we have the Bay of Carlos which is not the Bay',
*of Juan PoIce but Estero L1kv exactly fits the description given by
Velasco. The coincidence in descriptions given by Herrera, in his ac-
c'ount of Juan Ponce's first voyage, with that of Bernal Diaz of thei
place he visited with Anton Alaminos and Cordova; and the persistence?
of such local names as Matanzas, Estero, Big Carlos Pass, and Little
Carlos Pass leave little room for doubt that Juan Ponce returned, on hii
second x. .-. to the place where he had fought with the Calos Indians
in 1513.
/ How long Ponce de Le6n remained at his landing place, "resting
/his people" before penetration inland is uncertain, as is also the exact
Space where they rested and where the battle occurred in which the ex-
/plorer received his fatal wound. It may be that the rest was on Estero
Island. Mound Key, in Estero Bay is strongly indicated as the seat of
S-'aciqtiue Carlos.
F rom the expressions used .by Oviedo it may be deduced that ar)
unsuccessful attempt was made to convert the Calos 1ndhan. to Chris-,
tianity, p-1.ibly by rc-aldini to them the requirimiento contained in the\
second capitulation. This may have precipitated the battle in which)
Juan Ponce received his fatal wound.


On the voyage to Cuba the two vessels became separated. One
was driven by a storm to the coast ..' M:Icxic., where the supplies it
carried were of welcome assistance to Cortez. (112) The other ship,
carr ying the wounded, also took the horses to Cuba.
Being now at the point of death, Ponce de Le6n appointed one of
(his party to take charge of his goods, which had the value of five
/thousand pesos of gold. This administrator was to sell everything, in-
vest the money in more horses, and take them to Mexico for resale.
S he proceeds of this venture were to be divided among the explorer's
heirs. (113)
Thus ended the discovery of Florida and the first attempt to found
a permanent European settlement on its shores. In the ensuing 22 years
two other explorations, those of Narvaez and de Soto, also ended in the
.death of their leaders, but extended Spanish claims far beyond the
Florida discovered by Juan Ponce de Leon.
For the next twenty years, following the death of Hernando de
Soto, Spain lost interest in establishing settlements in the vast territory
,,\which she claimed along the Atlantic seaboard. Due to the frequency
Of wrecks in the Bahama Channel an attempt was made t... di-ocver an
overland route across Florida, so. that treasure from Mexico might be
routed this way from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Coast and there
reshipped to Spain, but nothing came of these schemes. It was not
Until France e.tablishl. Fort Caroline, in 1564, at the mouth of the
St, John's River, where it commanded the Bahama Channel route, that
SSpain was driven to nakiin .L..,.-d its claim to the eastern coast of the
present United States.
"Claims to discovery of Florida prior to the first voyage of Juan
Ponce de Le6n, in 1513, have been made but seldom with entire dis-
interest. With exception of Raleigh's abortive attempt to found a
colony at Jacan, in 1585, the English made no serious claim to terri-
torial rights on the Atlantic seaboard, based on discoveries, until after
their destruction of the "Invincible" Spanish Armada. With this weak-
ening of Spain's sea power, English claims to vast territory on the 'North
American contingent eruc- advanced, based on the 1497 voyage of Sebas-
tian Cabot. In considering Cabot's discoveries, it should be borne in
mind that they were not advanced by the English until Spain had ex-
tended its Province of Florida to include all lands east of the Mis-
sissippi River from Florida Straits to Nova Scotia.
.-Just what Cabot did discover is still a matter of controversy. Un-
doubtedly he coasted along the northern Atlantic seaboard.- How far
s'-,uthl he came is a matter of conjecture. The story, he told Peter
Martyr is vague. He had Cuba on his left hand. He was in the


/latitude of Gibraltar; that is 350 54', which is almost on line with Cape
Hatteras. He was in the longitude of Cuba; i. e., between 80 and 81.
The Atlantic coast, from just below Charleston to Savannah lies be-
Stween those longitudes. He was headed Southwest and had Cuba on
is left hand. The coast from Hatteras to Savannah runs southwest,
/o Cuba would have been on his left hand there, but far away from it
_and also from the Florida which Juan Ponce de Le6n discovered. (114)
There is the claim that Vespucci, in 1498, sighted Cape Florida;
but authorities disagree ori whether he made the voyage or not. (115) k.
The elder Miruelo, a Spanish pilot, reported making a voyage to an
unknown coast, where he traded with the natives for gold; but as he-\'
took no observation, and never could find the place again, he can hardly
be given credit for Florida's discovery. (116)
That land was conjectured to exist north of Cuba, prior to Juan
Ponce's discoveries, cannot be disputed. Juan de Ia Cosa, on his map
of 1502, shows Cuba as an island with a vaguely outlined continent
north of it. There is the Cantino map of this same year, but vague as
to its sources; finally, there is Herrera's statement, in the opening sen-
tences of his description of Juan Ponce's voyage: .y como avia
nueva que se hallaven tierras a la vanda del Norte ." [ .and as
he had news that lands were found at the North border .In- -
/deed it was news of these lands, learned from the Indians of the
Bahamas and Cuba, which influenced Ponce de Le6n to sail in that
direction,:. .
Knowing that land exists and actually discovering that land are in
on its shores, or taking possession, can- hardly be classed as making a
ddiscovery in any legal sense.
/ The discovery of Florida, as made by Juan Ponce de Le6n, is well
Documented by his entering into formal contract to make the discovery
' and his appointment as Adelantado for life of the lands he discovered.
The one detailed account describes this explorer as landing -and taking
possession of his discoveries for'his king. The- niKia c-i\n i.v utla
/once to islandB discovered on his voyage still persist on modern maps
and are not shown o any imap made prior to his voyage.
No authenticated evidence of prior discovery has yet been pre-
-ented. The Florida ua Ponce de en discovered is our
i.1;\ __ It sting bears the name he gave it.

Note: The following list of documents (with exception of No.
47) is copied from a list c' .,,iili- l by tlh, Spai-i .i.c:liive. in Seville,
in 1908. This list and official Spanish lraIn-cilit- -.f number of the
'dorum~ai are now in the collection of Hon. Walter B. Fraser. St.
Aun-I-tinc. Florida.. The author acknowledges his indebtedness to Mr.
faseror permission to use them in this work.
Numbers are arbitrarily assigned for convenient reference and do
not appear on the originals. When a number is followed by (F) it
indicates an official Spanish transcript of the document, certified by
Sefior Pedro Torres de Lanzas, Chief of Archive, in the Fraser col-
lection. A.G.I. in the reference is an abbreviation for Archivo General
de Indias.
English translations of Spanish titles and endorsements, enclosed
in [ ] are by the author. Transcripts and translations of documents
relative to Florida are in the Appendix in this work.

No. 1. A.G.I. 139-1-4, libro 3, fol. 35-37. Madrid, March 2, 1510.
Copia de una Real Cidula concediendo poder de Capitan de la
isla de San Juan a Juan Ponce de Le6n.
[Copy of a Royal Decree conceding the command of Captain of
the Island of San Juan to Juan Ponce de Le6n.]

No. 2 (F). A.G.I. 2-1-1/23, ramo 1.
Medinaceli, April 11, 1510.
'Iraslado de una Real Cedula dirigida 4 Juan Ponce de Le6n,
Capit4n general de Puerto Rico, para que diese A la persona que
tuviera poder de Lope Conchillos, cien indios mas un cacique, de que les
hacia merced juntamente de la escribiana mayor de las minas de dicha
[Transcript of a Royal Decree directed to Juan Ponce de Le6n,
Captain General of Puerto Rico, that he will give the person who shall
have power [of attorney] from Lope Conchillos a hundred Indians in
addition to a chief, of which he is given the gift together with [the
appointment] of Chief Actuary of the mines of the said island.]

No. 3 (F). A.G.I. 2-1-1/23, ramo 1.
Medinaceli, April 11, 1510.


Real Cedula dirigida a Juan Ponce de Le6n Capitan General de
Puerto Rico, para que diese a Pedro Moreno 6 a otra persona que llevare
poder del Secretario Conchillos el cacique 6 indios naborias de que a
este habia hecho merced.

[Royal Order directed to Juan Ponce de Le6n, Captain General of
Puerto Rico, that he will give to Pedro Moreno, or to any other per-
son who may carry power from the Secretary Conchillos, the chief and
neighboring Indians that I have given him the gift of.]

No. 4. A.G.I. 133-1-4, libro 3, fol. 35.
Monzon, June 15, 1510.
Copia de una Real Cedula dirigida a Juan Ponce de Le6n Capitan
de la isla de S. Juan, avisandole la remisi6n de las cartas de poder para
la gobernaci6n de aquella provincial.

[Copy of a Royal Order directed to Juan Ponce de Le6n, Captain
of the Island of San Juan, advising him of the sending of letters [giv-
ing him] power of government of that Province.]

No. 5 (F). A.G.I. 41-6-1/24, libro 1, fol. 64v and 65.
Sevilla, February 26, 1511.
Copia de una Real Cedula dirigida a don Diego Colon Almirante y
Gobernador de las Indias, para que levantase el embargo que habia
hecho de los bienes del Capitan de la isla de San Juan, Juan Ponce de
Le6n, y se los consintiese pasar a la Espafiola siempre que no fuera
contra el derecho de parties.

[Copy of a Royal Command directed to don Diego Columbus
Admiral and Governor of the Indies, that he raise the embargo he has
made on the goods of the Captain of the Island of San Juan, Juan
Ponce de Le6n, and that he always consent to the passing of them to
Hispaniola whenever it may not be contrary to the law of parties.]

No. 6 (F). A.G.I. 41-6-1/24, libro 1, fol. 94v.
Tordesillas, July 25, 1511.
Copia de una Real Cedula dirigida A Miguel de Pasamonte,
tesorero general de las Indias, para que hablara y concertAse con Juan
Ponce de Le6n, sobre alguna otra empresa que estuviere de-lpue-ta i
realizar, que el estaba en anima de concedersela.

[Copy of a Royal Order directed to Miguel de Pasamonte, Treas-
urer General of the Indies, that he will talk and concert with Juan


ponce de Le6n, upon some other enterprise he may be disposed to per-
form, that he is of the will to concede it to him.]

No. 7. Not copied. Permission to import a slave.

No. 8. A.G.I. 139-1-4-libro 3, fol. 188-184v.
Burgos, November 1, 1511.
Copia de una Real C6dula dirigida al Licenciado Sancho de Velas-
ques, para que tomase la residencia a Juan Ponce de Le6n en el termino
de 20 dias.
[Copy of a Royal Order directed to the Licentiate Sancho de
Velasques, that he will take the residencia of Juan Ponce de Le6n
within the time of 20 days.]

No. 9 (F). A.G.I. 139-1-4-libro 3, f l. 90-91.
Burgos, November 9, 1511.
Copia de una Real C6dula dirigida al Fiscal de las Indias, para que
no tomase residencia A Juan Ponce de Le6n en tocante A los indios que
se habian revelado en la isla de S. Juan.
[Copy of a Royal Order directed to the Attorney General of the
Indies, that he shall not take accounting from Juan Ponce de Le6n [in
residencia] touching on the Indians who have rebelled in the Island of
San Juan.]

No. 10. A.G.I. 139-1-4-libro 3, fol. 191.
Burgos, November 9, 1511.
Copia de una Real Cedula dirigida A los oficiales de la isla de S.
Juan, para que no quitaren sus indios a Juan Ponce de Le6n, eni tanto
que iba 4 la Espafiola 6 vinere a Espafia.
[Copy of a Royal Order directed to the officials of the island of
San Juan, that they do not take from Juan Ponce de Le6n his Indians,
inasmuch as he goes to Hispaniola or may come to Spain.]

No. 11. A.G.I. 139-1-4-libro 3, fol. 190.
Burgos, November 9, 1511.
Copia de una Real Cedula dirigida a los Jueces de apelaci6n de las
Indias, para que hicieron volver su casa a Juan Ponce de Le6n, 6 que
le pagase Gonzalo de Ovalle el aquiler de lo que en ella habia estado.



[Copy of a Royal Order directed to the Judges of Appeal of the
Indies, that they cause Juan Ponce de Le6n's house to be returned to
him and that Gonzalo de Ovalle pay him rent for the time he has been
in it.]

No. 12. A.G.I. 139-1-4-libro 3, fol. 196.
Burgos, November 22, 1511.
Copia de una Real C6dula dirigida a Juan Ponce de Le6n haciendole
merced de tres solares en los que tenia edificadas sus casas en la villa de
Caparra isla de S. Juan.
[Copy of a Royal Order directed to Juan Ponce de Le6n, making
him a gift of three lots on which he has built his houses in the town of
Caparra, Island of San Juan.]

No. 13. A.G.I. 139-1-4-libro 3, fol. 196.
Burgos, November 22, 1511.
Copia de una Real Cedula dirigida al Licenciado Sancho de Velas-
ques para que no tomase residencia i Juan Ponce de Le6n del agravio
que Juan Ceron, Miguel Diaz y el bachiller Morales decian haberles
hecho, por despojarles de sus cargos y traerlos press a Espaiia.
[Copy of a Royal Order directed to the Licentiate Sancho de
Velasques, that he shall not take accounting [in residencia] from Juan
Ponce de Le6n of the injury Juan Ceron, Miguel Diaz, and the Bachelor
Morales say he did them by removing them from their offices and bring-
ing them prisoners to Spain.]

No. 14 (F). A.G.I. 139-1-1-libro 1, fols. 9-11v.
Burgos, February 23, 1512.
Copia de una Real C6dula concediendo licencia y facultud A Juan
Ponce de Le6n para que fuese a descubrir y poblar la Isla de Bimini
bajo ciertas condiciones que en ella sefialan.

[Copy of a Royal Order conceding license and faculty to Juan
Ponce de Le6n that he may go to discover and colonize the Island of
Bimini under. certain conditions that in it are made known.]

No. 15 (F). A.G.I. 139-1-4-libro 3, fol. 252-253v.
Burgos, February 23, 1512.
Copia de una Real Cedula dirigida a los oficiales de la isla Espafiola
sobre el asiento que se habia de tomar con Juan Ponce de Le6n en lo de
la isla de Bimini que iba a descubrir.


[Copy of a Royal Order directed to the officials of the Island of
Hispaniola, upon the contract which must be taken with Juan Ponce de
Le6n in that [matter] of the Island of Bimini which he goes to dis-

No. 16. A.G.I. 139-1-5-libro 4, fol. 30.
Burgos, August 12, 1512.
Copia de una Real Cedula dirigida a Juan Ceron alcalde mayor de
la isla de S. Juan para que restituyesen A Juan Ponce de Le6n un navio
que se le tom6, con los fletes, y el ganado que se le quit6.
[Copy of a Royal Order directed to Juan Ceron, Chief Justice of
the Island of San Juan that there be restored to Juan Ponce de Le6n a
ship which was taken from him with the freight and cattle that were
removed from it.]

No. 17 (F.). A.G.I. 139-1-5-libro 4, fol. 5.
Burgos, August 12, 1512.
Copia de una Real C6dula dirigida A Juan Ponce de Le6n para que
viniese a Espafia a informar de various cosas important A su servicio.
[Copy of a Royal Order directed to Juan Ponce de Le6n, that he
shall come to Spain to inform of various things important to his [the
King's] service.]

No. 18. A.G.I. 139-1-5-libro 4, fol. 5.
Burgos, August 12, 1512.
Copia de una Real Cedula dirigida A Juan Ceron alcalde mayor de
la isla de S. Juan para que no ponga obstaculo A Juan Ponce de Le6n
en su viaje A Espafa y dejara tener sus indios A la persona que nombrase
a tal efecto.
[Copy of a Royal Order directed to Juan Ceron, Chief Justice of
the Island of San Juan, that he put no obstacle [in the way of] Juan
Ponce de Le6n in his voyage to Spain, and he [Ceron] will let the per-
son whom he [Juan Ponce] may name for such effect have his Indians.

No. 19. A.G.I. 139-1-5-libro 4, fol. 5v.
Burgos, August 12, 1512.
Copia de una Real Cedula dirigida al Almirante don Diego Colon
para que no pusiese impediment de su venida A IF-rpaia y trat:t-e I.iitC :
Juan Ponce de Le6n.


[Copy of a Royal Order directed to the Admiral don Diego Colum-
bus that he shall put no impediment to his coming to Spain and that he
treat Juan Ponce de Le6n well.]

No. 20. A.G.I. 139-1-5-libro 4, fol. 6.
Burgos, August 12, 1512.
Copia de una Real C6dula dirigida a Miguel Diaz Dauz, alguacil
mayor de la isla de San Juan, para que no le pidiese A Juan Ponce de
Le6n el flete del navio en que le envi6 preso A Espafia.

[Copy of a Royal Order directed to Miguel Diaz Dauz, Chief Con-
stable of the Island of San Juan, that he shall not ask of Juan Ponce de
Le6n the freight [charges] of the vessel in which he sent him [Miguel]
a prisoner to Spain.

No. 21 (F). A.G.I. 139-1-5-libro 4, fol. 13.
Burgos, August 12, 1512.
Copia de una Real Cedula dirigida A los oficiales de la Casa de
Contrataci6n para que dejasen pasar Yfiigo de Zufiiga, 4 esclavos, 2
esclavas, i jarro, 1 taza y 1 salero para la isla de San Juan.
[Copy of a Royal Order directed to the House of Trade, that they
let pass Yfiigo de Zufiiga, 4 male slaves, 2 female slaves, 1 jar, 1 cup,
and 1 salt cellar for the Island of San Juan.] Although not mentioned
in the endorsement, the articles and slaves were the property of Juan
Ponce de Le6n. The jar, cup, and salt cellar were of silver.

No. 22. A.G.I. 139-1-5-libro 4, fol. 27.
Logrono, September 28, 1512.
Copia de una Real C6dula dirigida i los oficiales de la Casa de
Contrataci6n para que dejasen pasar a Juan Ponce de Le6n 6 t quien
su poder obstentarA a la isla Espafiola tres esclavos y tres esclavas
cristianos para su hijo Luis que en ella residia.
[Copy of a Royal Order directed to the officials of the House of
Trade, that they let pass [for] Juan Ponce de Le6n, or whoever may
show his power [of attorney] three male slaves and three female slaves,
Christians, to the Island of Hispaniola for his son Luis who resides

No. 23. A.G.I. 139-1-5-libro 4, fol. 62.
Logrono, December 10, 1512.


Copia de una Real Cedula dirigida A Juan Ponce de Leon, con-
cediendole la tenencia y alcaidia de la primera fortaleza que se erigiense
en la isla de S. Juan.
[Copy of a Royal Order directed to Juan Ponce de Le6n conced-
ing him the occupancy and wardership of the first fortress erected in
the Island of San Juan.]

No. 24 (F). A.G.I. 139-1-1-libro 1, fols. llv-12v.
Valladolid, September 27, 1513 [ ?]
Copia de una Real C6dula dirigida A Juan Ponce de Le6n agregando
nuevas instrucciones a las que les habian sido ya dados para la poblaci6n
de la isla de Bimini 6 isla de Florida por el descubierto.

[Copy of a Royal Order directed to Juan Ponce de Le6n adding
new instructions to those which have already been given for the settle-
ment of the Island of Bimini and Island of Florida discovered by him.]
Although the year 1513 is given on both the list and certified copy, this
is evidently a copyist's error. The year should be 1514.

No. 25 (F). A.G.I. 139-1-5-libro 5, fol. 3.
Valladolid, September 27, 1514.
Copia de una Real Cedula dirigida A los oficiales de la Casa de
Contrataci6n para que facilitan A Juan Ponce de Le6n, Adelantado de
Florida y Bimini, el armamiento necesario A la armada que conducia
contra los Caribes.

[Copy of a Royal Order directed to the officials of the House of
Trade, that they supply to Juan Ponce de Le6n, Adelantado of Florida
and Bimini, the armament necessary to the armada that he conducts
against the Caribes.]

No. 26. (F). A.G.I. 139-1-5-libro 5, fols. 3v-4v.
Valladolid, September 27, 1514.
Copia de una Real C6dula dirigida a Juan Ponce de Le6n dandole in-
strucciones sobre lo que habia de hacer en la empresa que tenia en-
comendada contra los Caribes.
[Copy of a Royal Order directed to Juan Ponce de Le6n, giving
him instructions on what he must do in the enterprise he has intrusted
to him again the Caribes.]


No. 27. A.G.I. 139-1-5-libro 5, fols. 4v-7.
Valladolid, September 27, 1514.
Copia de una Real Cddula por la que se otorga poder A Juan Ponce
de Le6n para que sea Capit6n de la Armada que se preparaba contra los

[Copy of a Royal Order by which Juan Ponce de Le6n is given
authority that he may be Captain of the Armada that is being prepared
against the Caribes.]

No. 28. A.G.I. 139-1-5-libro 5, fols. 7-9.
Valladolid, September 27, 1514.
Copia de una Real C6dula otorgando poder a Juan Ponce de Le6n
para que pudiese hacer el repartimiento de la isla de S. Juan con las
personas que entendian en ello.
[Copy of a Royal Order granting power to Juan Ponce de Le6n
that he may make the division of the Island of San Juan with the per-
sons who are in charge of it.]

No. 29. A.G.I. 139-1-5-libro 5, fol. 9.
Valladolid, September 27, 1514.
Copia de una Real C6dula dirigida al que entendia en el reparti-
miento de los indios de la isla de San Juan para que se juntan tal
efecto con Juan Ponce de Le6n.
[Copy of a Royal Order directed to he who is in charge of the
redivision of the Indians of the Island of San Juan that he join with
Juan Ponce de Le6n for such effect.]

No. 30. A.GI. 139-1-5-libro 5 fols. 10-11.
Valladolid, September 27, 1514.
Copia de una Real Cedula concediendo a Juan Ponce de Le6n el
titulo de Capitan de la isla de S. Juan.
[Copy of a Royal Order conceding to Juan Ponce de Le6n the title
of Captain of the Island of San Juan.]

No. 31. A.G.I. 139-1-5-libro 5, fols. 11-12.
Valladolid, September 27, 1514.


Copia de una Real Cedula dirigida A Juan Ponce de Le6n con-
cediendole comision para que tomase cuenta de las penas de Camara en
la isla de S. Juan y el resto se gastarA en casas para propios de los

[Copy of a Royal Order directed to Juan Ponce de Le6n con-
ceding him commission to take account of the fines forfeited to the
Treasury and the remainder that will be spent in houses for individuals
in the settlements.]

No. 32. A.G.I. 139-1-5-libro 5, fols. 11-12.
Valladolid, September 27, 1514.
Copia de una Real Cedula dirigida a Juan Ponce de Le6n con-
cediendole licencia para llevar a la guerra de los Caribes algunas indios
de la Espafiola, S. Juan 6 Cuba y enviase a Espaia algunos de la
[Copy of a Royal Order directed to Juan Ponce de Le6n con-
ceding him license to carry some Indians from Hispaniola, San Juan,
or Cuba to the war of the Caribes and that he shall send some from
Florida to Spain.]

No. 33. A.G.I. 139-1-5-libro 5, fols. 12v-13.
Valladolid, September 27, 1514.
Copia de una Real Cedula dirigida al Almirante don Diego Colon
en recomendaci6n de Juan Ponce de Le6n.
[Copy of a Royal Order directed to the Admiral don Diego Colum-
bus in recommendation of Juan Ponce de Le6n.]

No. 34. A.G.I. 139-1-5-libro 5, fol. 13.
Valladolid, September 27, 1514.
Copia de una Real Cedula dirigida a los oficiales de la isla de S.
Juan en recomendaci6n de Juan Ponce de Le6n.
[Copy of a Royal Order directed to the officials of the Island-of
San Juan in recommendation of Juan Ponce de Le6n.]

No. 35 (F). A.G.I. 1'39-1-5-libro 5, fol. 13v.
Valladolid, September 27, 1514.
Copia de una Real Cedula dirigida al Almirante, Jueces y Oficiales
de la Espaiiola, para que no consintieran que persona alguna hiciera


Armada para Bimini y Florida cuya poblaci6n estaba encomendada a
Juan Ponce de Le6n.

[Copy of a Royal Order directed to the Admiral, Judges, and
Officials of Hispaniola, that they shall not consent that any person
whatever make an Armada for [i.e., a fleet to go to] Bimini and
Florida whose colonization was entrusted to Juan Ponce de Le6n.]

No. 36. A.G.I. 139-1-5-libro 5, fol. 14.
Valladolid, September 27, 1514.
Copia de una Real Cedula dirigida al Teniente del Almirante en la
isla de San Juan prohibiendole la concesi6n de licencias para hacer guerra
a los Caribes empresa que estaba ya cometida a Juan Ponce de Le6n.
[Copy of a Royal Order directed to the Lieutenant of the Admiral
in the Island of San Juan prohibiting him the concession of licenses to
make waragainst the Caribes [an] enterprise already committed to fuan
Ponce de Le6n.]

No. 37 (F). A.G.I. 139-1-5-libro 5, fol. 17.
Valladolid, September 27, 1514.
Copia de una Real Cedula dirigida al Gobernador, Adelantado y
Justicia Mayor de las islas de Bimini y Florida y A los demas oficiales
y pobladores de ellas incluyendoles las instrucciones i ordenanzas pro-
mulgadas para las mismas.
[Copy of a Royal Order directed to the Governor, Adelantado and
Chief Justice of the Islands of Bimini and Florida and to the other
officials and settlers of them, including for them the instructions or
ordinances promulgated for the same.]

No. 38. A.G.I. 139-1-5-libro 5, fol. 1.
Valladolid, September 30, 1514.
Relaci6n firmada por Juan Ponce de Le6n de los-despachos que
habia recibido para llevar a'las Indias..
[Statement signed by Juan Ponce de Le6n of the dispatches he has
received to carry to the Indies.]

No. 39, A.G.I. 139-1-5-libro 5, fol. 2.
Valladolid, September 30, 1514.


Relaci6n firmada por Juan Ponce de Le6n de los despachos le habia
entregado el Secretario Conchillos para los oficiales de la Casa de la
[Statemeiit signed by Juan Ponce de Le6n of the dispatches en-
trusted to him by the Secretary Conchillos for the officials of the House
of Trade.]

No. 40. A.G.I. 2-1-1/23 No. 5.
Relaci6n de las cartas escritas a S. M. sobre materials de buen
gobierno por Andreas de Haro, Yfiigo de Zufiiga, Diego de Arce, Juan
Ponce de Le6n. y Antonio Sedefio-Ponce de Le6n segun ella, habia
'llegado A Puerto Rico el 25 de Julio del Afio 1515.
[Statement of the letters written His Majesty on matters of good
government by Andreas de Haro, Yiiigo Zufiiga, Diego de Arce, Juan
Ponce de Le6n and Antonio Sedefio-according to it Ponce de Le6n
had arrived at Puerto Rico the 25th of July of the year 1515]

No. 41. A.G.I. 2-1-1/20-ramo 5.
Santo Domingo, 1515.
Relaci6n de varias suplicas y declaraciones sobre diferentes asuntos
por los Jueces de Apelacion de la isla de Santo Domingo, fecha 15 de
Septiembre; otra de los oficiales reales de 30 de Septiembre, sobre la
conduct de Juan Ponce, en su comision, y otras varies Jueces de dicha
isla sobre el gobierno de ella.
[Statement of several petitions and declarations upon different
matters by the Judges of Appeal of the Island of Santo Domingo,
dated 15th of September; another of the Royal Officials, of the 30th
of September, on the conduct of Juan Ponce, in his commission, and
several other Judges of the said Island on the government of it.]

No. 42 (F). A.G.I. 2-1-1/23-ramo 8.
Proceso seguido en Puerto Rico ante el Licenciado Antonio de la
Gama, Jues de residencia y Justicia MIayor de dicha isla, A instancia del
Adelantado Juan Ponce de Le6n contra el Licenciado Sancho Velasques
sobre agravios en una cuenta y otras puntos de buen gobierno. Aiio de
[Law suit prosecuted in Puerto Rico before the Licentiate Antonio
de'la Gama, Judge of Residencia and Chief Justice of the said island,
at the instance of the Adelantado Juan Ponce de Le6n against the


Licentiate Sancho Velasques on injuries in an account and other points
of good government.]

'No. 43 (F). 2-1-2/24-ramo 4.
Puerto Rico, June 12, 1520.
Carta del Licenciado de la Gama dirigida A S. M. enviandole la
residencia del Licenciado Sancho Velasques y el paracer sobre si los
indios serian habiles para vivir por si 6 encomendado, y le comunica su
matrimonio con una hija del Adelantado Juan Ponce de Le6n.
[Letter from the Licentiate de la Gama directed to His Majesty
sending him the final accounting of the Licentiate Sancho Velasques
and the opinion on [the question] if the Indians will be able to live by
themselves or assigned [to a Spaniard], and he communicates to him his
marriage with a daughter of the Adelantado Juan Ponce de,Le6n.]

No. 44 (F). A.G.I. 2-1-2/24-ramo 5.
Puerto Rico, June 16, 1520.
Carta de los oficiales Reales de Puerto Rico dirigida A S. M. en la
que exponen los perjucios que se seguirian de haberse casado el Licen-
ciado de la Gama con una hija del Adelantado Juan Ponce de Le6n, y
de que al mismo tiempo ejerciese la vara de la justicia.
[Letter from the Royal Officials of Puerto Rico directed to His
Majesty, in which they expose the prejudices which will follow the
Licentiate de la Gama having married with a daughter of the Adelantado
Juan Ponce de Le6n and at the same time he may be exercising the
office of justice.]

No. 45 (F). A.G.I. 2-1-2/24-ramo 9, vitrina 9.
Puerto Rico, February 10, 1521.
Carta del Adelantado Juan Ponce de Le6n dirigida al Cardenal de
Tortosa participandole su acuerdo de empreder un nuevo viaje para
poblar la ,isla Florida y comarcanas v realizar otros descubrimientos y
solicitando su apoyo en la concession de mercedes por sus servicios.
[Letter of the Adelantado Juan Ponce de Le6n directed to the
Cardinal of Tortosa, informing him of his decision to undertake a new
voyage to settle the Island Florida and others neighboring and to realize
other discoveries, and soliciting his help in the concession of favors for
his services.]


No. 46 (F). A.G.I. 2-1-2/24-2a., vitrina central.

Puerto Rico, February 10, 1521.

Carta del Adelantado Juan Ponce de Le6n dirigida al Emperador
Carlos V. en la que dice que habia descubierto la isla Florida y otras
comarcanas y que dentro de cinco 6 seis dias emprendia su viaje para
poblarlas y hacer nuevos descubrimientos solicitando mercedes en atenci6n
ti estos servicios.

[Letter of the Adelantado Juan Ponce de Le6n directed to. the
Emperor I hn.l, V. in which he says that he has discovered the Island
Florida and others neighboring and that, within five or six days, he will
begin his voyage to colonize them and to make new discoveries, solicit-
.ing favors in attention to these services.]

No. 47 (F).. A.G.I. Est: 41, Caj. 6, Leg [?].
Cedula of Charles V. : ....li, .disposal of goods left by Juan
Ponce in Havana. This is not a certified copy and is not contained in
the list prepared by the Spanish Archive.. The A.G.I. reference is in-
complete. A Spanish typescript is in the Fraser collection taken from
the Conferencia of Paniagua. See P:iii.-'.1i: later in bibliography.

No. 48. A.G.I. 53-1-11. Not copied. It is an Information made by
Juan Ponce de Le6n, a descendant of the Adelantado.

No. 49. Not copied. It is an Information made by Francisco Cobos
in which the Ponce de Le6n mentioned is the Adelantado's grandson.

No. 50 (F). A.G.I. 1-2-2/18-No. 2, ramo 3.

San Juan de Puerto Rico, January 8, 1582.
Informaci6n de los m&ritos y servicios de Juan Ponce de Le6n, uno
de los pobladores y conquistadores de la isla de Puerto Rico y Capit6n
general de ella, y despues -Gobernador y Adelantado de la Florida, donde
muri6; y de lo.s de Gaspar: Troche, su yerno, tambien conquistador de
dicha isla., :
[Ihzi'rmation of the merits and services of Juan Ponce de Le6n,
'One of the settlers and conquerers of the Island of Puerto Rico and
Captain General of it, and afterwards Adelantado of Florida, where he
died; and of those of Gaspar Troche, his son-in-law, also a conquerer of
the said island.]


No. 51 (F). A.G.I. 1-3-27/18, No. 6, ramo,3.
Santiago de Costa Rica, January 31, 1594.
Informaci6n en la que se incluye lo de los meritos y servicios de
Juan Ponce de Le6n uno de los primeros descubridores de Nueva
Espafia, Costa de la Florida y San Juan de Ulua, a donde pas6 con el
Almirante Don Luis Col6n.
[Information in which is included that of the merits and services
of Juan Ponce de Le6n, one of the first discoverers of New Spain,
Coast of Florida and San Juan de Ulloa wliere he went with the Admiral
Don Luis Columbus.]
This information was filed by Perefan de Ribera, a grandson of
Gaspar Troche and Maria Ponce de Le6n (great-grandson of the
Adelantado). The document embodies, as.exhibits, informations filed
by other descendants of Juan Ponce de Le6n. The earlier ones contain
statements that the Adelantado was with Christopher Columbus "who
was the first discoverer whereby all the Indies were discovered." Later
Christopher's name becomes changed to Luis and. claims are made that
Juan Ponce was at the founding of San Tuan de Ulloa.

La Florida del Inca, Garcilasso de la Vega, el Inca, 2nd ed.,
Madrid, 1723.

Historia General de las Indias, Bartolom6 de Las Casas. Photostats
in Webb Meinorial Library, St. Augustine Historical Society, ob-
tained from printed and Manuscript copies in Library of Congress.

-Y, Orbe Novo, The Eight Decades of Peter Mi'wv, D'Anghera,
Translated by Francis Agustus MacNutt, 2 vols,, G. P., Putnam's
SSons, New York, 1912..
Hakluyt's Collection of Edrly Voyages, Travels, and Discoveries,
of the. English Nation. 5 vols. Printed for R. H. Evans, 28 Pall
Mall; J. Mackinla.,' Strahd and R. Priestly, Holborn, London,
1810. Vol. 5, Decades of Peter Martyr, translated by Lok.

Historia General y Natural de las Indias, por Gonzalo Fernandez
de Oviedo y Valdes. From photostats in Webb Memorial Library,
St. Augustine Historical Society, obtained from printed and manu-
script copies in Library of Congress.

Ensayo Cronologico para la Historia de la Florida, Don Gabriel de
Cardenas z Cano [Barcia], Madrid, 1723.

Memoir of Do. d'Escalente Fontaneda respecting Florida, Miami,
Florida, 1944 [Reprint].

Historia General de Los Hechos de Los Castellanos en Las Islas
y TiLrra Firme del Mar Oceano, Antonio de Herrera y Tordesillas,
Madrid, 1601.


Herncn Cortes, Salvador de Madariaga, Editorial Sudamericana,
Buenos Aires, 2d ed., 1943.

Historia General de Espaha, Padre Juan de Mariana, Decimaquarta
Impresi6n, 2 tomos, Madrid, 1780.

La Florida, Eugenio Ruidiaz y Caravia, 2 vols., Madrid, 1893.

Monarchia Yndiana, F. Juan de Torquemada, 3 Vols. Madrid,

Geografia y Descripcidn Universal de las Indias, Juan L6pez de
Velasco; Bulletin of the Geographical Society of Madrid, 1890.


Noticias Sacras y Reales de los Imperios de las Indias de la Nueva
Espafa, Juan Dia 'Ale la?&ialle. Buckingham Snith Collection,
North:American MSS., 1607-1786, in New York Historical So-
ciety Library.

SJuan Ponce de Ledn, su Nombre, suPaitria, su VI. biaK,. sus Blasonc..
sus Companeros en la Conquista de Puerto Rico, Rectificaci6n
Razonada y Documentada. Angel de Paniagua, Junta de Sindicos
Biblioteca Insular, Puerto Rico, 1914. Typescript copy in collection
of Hon. Walter B. Fraser, St. Augustine, Fla.

The Pocket Guide to the West Indies, Algeron A-pinall. C.M.G.;
Brentano's, New York, 1901.


Arredondo's Historical Proof of Spain's Title to Georgia, edited
by Herbert E. Bolton, University of California Press, Berkley,
Calif., 1925.

Notes on the Florida Peninsula,. Its Literary, History, Indian
Tribes and Antiquities, Daniel G. Brinton, A.B.; Joseph Sabin,
Philadelphia, 1859.

Florida Old and New, Frederick W. Dau, G. P. Putnam's Sons,
New York, 1934.

The First Three ar.,i:di Books on America [?1511]-1555 A.D.,
Richard Eden, Birmingham, Eng., 1885.

Spanish Conquest in America and Its Relation to the History of
Slavery and the Government of Colonies, Arthur Helps, 4 vols.
Parker and Son and Bourn, London, 1861.

Spanish Approach to, Pensacola, 1689-1693, translated and edited
by Irving A. Leonard, Quivira Society, Alburquerque, 1939.

Spanish Settlements Within the Present Limits of the United
States, 1513-1561, Woodbury Lowery, G. P. Putnam's Sons, New
York, 1911.

1 ', .\'P iAGA.
Christopher Columbus, Being the Life of the Very Magnificent
Lord Don Cristival Col6n, Salvador de Madariaga, The Macmil-
lan Company, New York, 1940.

History of Reign of Ferdinand and Isabella ill, Catholic, William
H. Prescott, 3 vols., Phillips, Sampson & Co., Boston, 1857.


The Whole & True Discouerye of Terra Florida, Jean Ribaut,
facsimile reprint of London ed. 1563, by Florida State Historical
Society, Deland, 1927.

Travels in the Confederation, 1783-1784, :from the German of
Johann David Schoepf, 2 vols., translated by Alfred Morrison,
William J. Campbell, Philadelphia, 1911.

Catholic Church in Colonial Days, John Gilmary Shea, J. G. Shea,
New York, 1886.

The General History of the vast Continent and Islands of America,
commonly called the West Indies, by Antonio de Herrera, trans-
lated into English by Capt. John Stevens, 6 vols., printed for Jer.
Batley, London, 1724.

Early History of Creek Indians and Their Neighbors, John R.
Swanton, Bulletin No. 73, Bureau of American Ethnology, Smith-
sonian Institution, Washington, D. C., 1922,

Christopher Columbus, His Life, His Work, His Remains, John
Boyd Thacher, 3 vols. G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York, 1904.

Narrative and Critical History of America, edited by Justin Win-
sor, 8 vols., Houghton, Mifflin and Co., New York, n.d., copyright,

American Practical Navigator, originally by Nathaniel Bowditch,
LL.D., United States Hydrographic Office, Washington, D. C.,


U. S. Hydrographic Office Nos. 1290 and 26-e. U. S. Coast and
Geodetic Survey Nos. 1002, 1111, 1112, 1243, 1244, and 1255.

United States Coast Pilot, Atlantic Coast, Section D, Cape Henry
to Key West, Fourth ed., U. S. Government Printing Office, 1936.
United States Coau. Pilot, Gulf Coast, Key West to the Rio Grande,
Second ed., 1936, U. S. Government Printing Office,

Transcripts of Spanish Texts with English Translations of
Documents Relative to Juan Ponce de Le6n and the
Discovery of Florida
Note: In the Spanish texts paragraphing, spelling and punctuation
of the certified copies have been followed. In the translations, which
are by the author, the almost interminable sentences and paragraphs
have been broken up, when this could be done without alteration of the
meaning. Special pains have been taken to give a literal translation of
each word used, selecting the definition most in accord with the con-

No. 6.
Archivo General de Indias, Sevilla
Contrataci6n de Sevilla, Libros de Registros de Reales CUdulas y
Ordenes. Aios 1518 [1508?] A 1519. Est. 41': Caj. 6: Leg. 1/24.
libro 1, fol.. 94v.

[A Cross]

Cedula para pasamonte miguel de pasamonte nuestro tesorero
sobre 16 de Juan ponce general de las yndias 6 tierra firme del mar
de leon. oceano yo envio a mandar a juan ponce de
'eon nuestro capitan que ftie de la ysla de
san juan que porque le e tenido 6 tengo contino por servidor que able
c..n v.. 'y platique todo que le pareciere en que yo pueda facerle merced"
y el servirnos especialmente si quisiere tomar ;algiina nieva poblaci6n a
su cargo como'hiso la de san juan y que con lo que "vos platidar6 y
tomando vuestra opinion en todo se venga i do yo estuviere por que
venido A vista la negociaci6n yo mand6 en ella lo que se deva facer
segund mas largo del sabreys y por que yo tengo voluntud en rremun-
erati6n de lo que el dicho juan ponce nos a servido de le facer mercedes
querria que entendiese en alguna nueva poblaci6n porque me parece que
es hombre aparejedo para ello yo vos mando que nos ynformeys de
todo y platiqueys con el que es Id que puede facer y en que nos pueda
servir y despues de aver platicado con el vos ynformeys de las personas
que vierdes que os podran dar buen parecer sobre lo que asi platicardes
vos informeys de todo muy [part;,iularin ',ll que es lo que quiere e
buenemente se puede conceder y en que abra mejor aparejo 6 despusci6n
para nos servir y el recibir mercedes y la rrelaci6n y ynformaci6n
de todo muy particularmente y de manera que yo pueda por ello


e cada cosa dello se la deve facer me lo imbiad al tiempo que
juan ponce venga para que yo lo made ver e proueer sobre todo ello
como viere c. ,.i .-in y en esto poned el rrecavdo e buera diligencia que
de vos confio que, en ello me servais y mando que se tome rrazon desta
mi cedula en los libros de la casa de la contrataci6n de las yndias de
seuylla por nuestro oficiales della fecha en tordecillas a xxv de julio de
quinientos 6 once afios yo el rrey por mando de su alteza lope c:,ic-Il!i.,.
(Hay tres Rubicas).

[T i -l ti,.,.i'i I > .' 6 .]
SGeneral Archive of [the] Indies, Seville
[House of] Trade of Seville, Books of Registry of Royal De-
crees and Orders. Years 1518 [1508?] to 1519. Archive 41; Case 6;
Bundle 1/24. Book 1, page 94 verso.
[A Cross]
Order for Pasamonte on Miguel de Pasamonte, our Treasurer Gen-
that of Juan Ponce de eral of the Indies, Islands and Mainland
Iee6n. of the Ocean Sea:
I send to command Juan Ponce de
Le6n who was our Captain of the Island of San Juan that, because I
have held him, and continue to hold him a servant [of the Crown], he
talk with thee and discuss all that appears to him in which I can do
him favor and he serve us; especially if he should wish to take any new
settlement in his charge, as he did the Island of San Juan. And with
what ye discuss, and thy opinion taken in, all, let it come wherever I
may be so that having come, and the negotiation seen, I will command
in it that which must be done as more at large thou shalt know. And
because I have the will, in remuneration of that [in] which the said
Juan Ponce has, served us, to do him favors if he should wish to be in
charge of some nqw settlement, for he seems to me to be a man well
prepared for it, And I command thee to inform us of all ye discuss
with him, that is, that which I may do. and in which ye may serve. And
after l'avinr. i-,icu.-'- with him thou shalt inform thyself from persons
thou seest that can give us a good opinion on that which thus ye discuss
and thou shalt inform [me] ~f all, very particularly, what it is he
wishes and it can be well conceded, and of what he may be best pre-
pared for and of disposition to serve us and he receive favors. And,
the relation and information of all. very particularly, so that I may do
for it and each thing of it that which must' be done, you shall send me
at the time Juan Ponce comes, so that I may command, see and provide
on all of it as I may see suitable. And in this put thou all pllcau;ti'-l1


and good diligence that I from thee trust that in it thou mayest serve
me. And I command that a transcript of this my order be taken in the
books of the House of Trade of the Indies in Seville by our officials
of it. Done in Tordesillas the 25th of July of five hundred and eleven
years [1511]. I the King. By Command of His Highness, Lope
Conchillos. (There are three rubrics.)

No. 15.
Archivo General de Indias, Sevilla
Est. 139: Caj. 1: Leg. 4: Libro 3, fols. 252-253v.


A los oficiales de la ysla de Nuestros oficiales que residis en la ysla
espafiola sobre el asiento espafola juan ponce de leon me escribi6
que se ha de tomar con.juan 1io que vereys por Ja carta que va con
ponce sobre lo de la dicha -.esta sobre la poblaci6n de una ysla que
ysla de biminy que ha yr a se llama bininy yo le he mandado res-
descobrir. ponder que os he cometido el negocio
y. que vosotros tomareys el asiento que
se deve tomar la capitulaci6n que nos envi6 sobre ello va con esta y
cierto es muy desonesta y apartada de razon porque todo lo que agora se
puede descobrir es muy facile de descobrir y no mirando estando todos
los que hablan en descobrir quieren tener fui A la capitulaci6n que se
hizo con el almirante colon y no piensen como entonces ninguna esper-
anza avia de lo que se descubri6 ni se pensaba que aquella pudiese ser
debeis decir sobre esto a juan ponce loque convenga para que yo le
hago en otorgarle la capitulaci6n que yo le hago lo qual ansi mesmo va
firmado de mi nombre y pensame que tiene razon de se contentar porque
el adelantado don bartolom6 colon me habl6 aca que queria descobrir
esta ysla y creo yd'o qe fuera A descobrir con mejor partido'para nuestra
hacienda que no el que hacemos con juan ponce y concertandoos con 61
como creo os concertareys tomado las fianzas contenidos con el mas
seguro que pudieredes y porque yo escrivi6 al almirante que vos pasa-
monte le'diieis un negocio que toca al dicho juan ponce si os concertardes
con 61 dc:i.l al almirante todo lo que vierdes que conviene al bien de este
n1..,:;,, paa :tliue 1 le ayude y favorezca en todo lo que vierdes que es
necessario y hacerfie saber todo lo que sobre ello pasa muy particular-
mente y asentareys por auto escrivano el dia que asentardes esta
capitulaci6n porque si dentro del aio no partiere para el dicho viage
podais e'ecutar las fianzas y pena para ello se pusiere y M1 1. I enviar
con 61 una persona con nombre de veedor para que vea como cumplirA


a lo que se obligar6 y avise aca y alli de todo lo que pasar6 y con el
veedor que enviaredes tomad el asiento que A vosotros bien vista fuere
fecha en burgos a viente y tres de Febrero de mil quinientos doce afios
yo el Rey por mandado de su alteza lope conchillos senalada del obispo
de palencia.

[Translation of No. 15.]
General Archive of the Indies, Seville
Archive 139: Case 1: Bundle 4: Book 3, pages 252-253verso.
[A Cross]

To the officials of the Island Our Officials who reside in the Island
Espafiola upon the agree- of Espafiola: Juan Ponce de Le6n
ment which they have to wrote me that which you will see,
take with Juan Ponce upon by the letter which goes with this,
that of the said Island of upon the settlement of an island which
Biminy [sic] which he has is called Binyny [sic]. I have corn-
to go to discover. manded reply that we have committed
this business to him and that ye will
take the agreement that must be taken. The capitulation. he sent
us goes with this and it is certainly very immodest and apart from
reason; because all that now can be discovered is very easy to
discover. And not looking at it being so, all those who talk of dis-
covering fly to the capitulation that was made with the Admiral
[Christopher] Columbus and do not think that then there was no hope
of what was discovered; neither was it thought that such a thing could
be. Ye must say, to Juan Ponce, what is suitable so that I may make
and covenant the capitulation that I make, which likewise goes here
signed with my name.
And I think that he has reason to be content, because the Adelantado
don Bartolom6 Columbus talked to me here that he wished to discover
this island. And I believe that he might have discovered it with better
advantage to our estate than we will do with Juan Ponce. And ye will
arrange with him, as I believe ye may arrange, taking the most secure
bonds that ye can. And because I wrote to the Admiral [Diego Colum-
bus] that thou, Pasamonte, wouldst give him a negotiation that touched
the said Juan Ponce, if thou makest agreement between us and him,
thou shalt say to the Admiral that which thou seest is suitable to the
forwarding of this negotiation, so that he will help and favor it in all
that thotu seest necessary. And thou shalt cause me to know all that
passes on it, very particularly, and thou shalt set down by act of notary


the day ye agree to this capitulation, because if within the year he
[Juan Ponce] does not depart for the said voyage thou canst execute
the bond and penalty which is put on it. And thou shalt send with him
a person with the name of Inspector, so that he will see how that which
is obligated is complied with, and advise here [in Spain] and there [in
Santo Domingo] of all that passes. And with the inspector thou
sendest thou mayest take the agreement which to thy view seemest best.
Done in Burgos the twenty-third day of February of One thousand
five hundred and twelve years. I the King. By Command of His
Highness. Lope Conchillos. Signed by the Bishop of Palencia.


No. 14.
Archivo General de. Indias, Sevilla
Indiferente General Registros
Asientos y capitulaciones general para descubrimientos y pobla-
ciones. Anos 1508 A 1574. Est. 139; Caj 1: Leg. 1: Libro 1: fols.
[A Cross]
Capitulaci6n con Joan Ponce de Por quanto vos Juan Ponce de Le6n
Le6n sobre el descubrimiento de me embiastes a suplicar 6 pedir
la ysla Benimy [sic]. por merced vos diese licencia y
facultad por yr A descubrir y poblar
las ylas de Benimi [sic] con ciertos condiciones que adelante seran
Por ende por vos hacer merced vos doy licencia y facultad para que
podais yr A descubrir la dicha ysla con tanto que no sea de las que
hasta agora estan descubiertas y con las condiciones y segun adelante
sera contenido en esta guisa.
Primeramente que Podais con los Nabios que quisierdes llevar A
vuestra costa y mincion yr A descubrir y descubrais la dicha ysla y para
ello tengais tres afios de termino que se quenten desde el dia que vos
fuere presentado esta mi capitulaci6n 6 se tomare el asiento con vos
sobre la dicha poblaci6n con tanto 6 seais obligado para la yr A descubrir
dentro del primer afio de los dichos tres afios 6 que a la yda podais
tocar en qualquier ysla 6 tierra firme del mar oceano asi descubiertas
como por descubrir con tanto que no sean de las yslas 6 tierra firme del
mar oceano que pertenecen al Serenisimo Rey de Portugal Nuestro muy
caro y muy Amado hijo y entiendese aquellas que estuvieron dentro de


los limited que entire nos y 61 estan -,l',:.l:.-. ni dellas podais tomar ni
aber interesse ni otra cosa alguna. Salvo solamente las cosas que para
vuestra mantenimiento y i.r.\i.-i.-i de navios y gente que ovierdes
menester pagando por ellos lo que valieran.
Iten que podais tomar y se tomen por vuestra parte en estos Reynos
de castilla 6 en la dicha isla espafiola para lo susodicho los navios
mantemientos y oficiales y mariners y gente que ovierdes menester
pagandolo todo segun se acostumbra y siendo i vista en la ysla Espafiola
de los nuestros oficiales r,' -:;i 6 residiesen en la nuestra casa de con-
trataci6n della y en castilla en la nuestra casa de contrataci6n de Sevilla.

Iten por vos hacer merced mando que durante el dicho tiempo de
los tres afios no podais yr ni vaya ninguna persona A descubrir la
dicha ysla de binini y si alguno fuere i la descubrir 6 por acertamiento
la descubriese se cumpla con vos lo en esta mi capitulaci6n contenido y
no con la persona que ansi la descubriese e por la descubrir de otro no
perdais nada del derecho que a ella teneis con tanto que como dicho es
os hagais A la bela para la yr a descubrir dentro del dicho primero afio
6 que de otra manera no valga y con tanta que no sea de las que se tiene
ya noticia y saviduria cierta.
Iten que hallando y descubriendo la dicha ysla en la manera que
dicha es vos hago merced de la governaci6n y justicia della por todos
los dias de vuestra vida y para ello vos doy poder cumplido y juris-
dicci6n c6vil y criminal con todas sus yncidencias y dependencias
anexidades y conexidades.
Iten que hallando las dichas yslas segun dicho es seais obligado A
poblar vuestra costa y en los lugares y asiento que mejor lo podais
hazer y que gozeis de las casas y estancias y poblaciones y heredades
que halli hizerdes y del provecho que en la dicha ysla oviere conforme
A lo contenido en este asiento.
Iten que si fortalezas se ovieran de hazer en Ja dicha ysla ayen.de
ser y sean i nuestra costa 6 pongamos en ellas nuestros alcaides como
mas vieremos que a nuestro servicio cumpla y si entire tanto que se
hazen las dichas fortalezas vos ficiedes iian casa 6 casas de morada 6
para defension de los yndios questas sean vuestras propios y si dellas
huviere necesidad para nuestro servicio las ayais de dar pagando lo que

Iten que vos hare merced y:por la presence vos lo hago por tiempo
de doze afios contados desde el dia que descubrierdes la dicha ysla de
binimi del diezmo de todas las rrentas 6 provechos que a nos pertenescan
en la dicha ysla no siendo de los diezmos de nuestra grangeria porque
desto no aveis de Ilevar cosa alguna sino de lo que vos y los que

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