The Hispanic-American History Timeline
1521 Ponce de Leon Returns to Florida,
Falls Mortally Wounded
Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce de León returns to Florida, from Puerto Rico, in Spain's first effort to establish a permanent colony in the land he had discovered and named eight years earlier.
His two ships and 200 colonists land in the vicinity of what is now Fort Myers on the west coast of Florida, but they are driven back into the sea by attacks from the Calusa Indians. A poisoned arrow mortally wounds Ponce de Leon, and the colonization effort is abandoned.
The expedition retreats to Havana, Cuba, where Ponce de Leon dies in July of 1521. His remains are returned to Puerto Rico, where he has served as governor, and he is buried inside the Cathedral of San Juan Bautista, in Old San Juan.
Curiously, he rests near the house that was being built for his family, and where he expected to live upon returning from Florida. The beautiful Old San Juan home, overlooking the bay, is called Casa Blanca. And although Ponce de Leon never gets to live in it, his family resides there for 250 years.
Nowadays, Ponce de Leon is honored with many statues, and the many streets, parks and other landmarks that are named after him, both in Florida and Puerto Rico. That’s where the City of Ponce got its name! Moreover, Casa Blanca is now a 16th century museum!
By Keila Rivera, Lehman College
San Juan Bautista Cathedral