A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 03 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 756 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 03.
sailed among islands till the 21st, when they arrived at some small islands which they called las Tortugas, or the Tortoises, as they took 170 of these creatures in a very short time in one of these islands, and might have had many more if they would.  On the 28th, seeing land, they came to an anchor to overhaul their sails and tackle, but could not tell whereabout they were.  Most of them thought it was the island of Cuba, because they found canoes and dogs, with some knives and other tools of iron.  On the 25th of July they were among a parcel of low islands, still ignorant of their situation, till De Leon sent to examine an island which he believed to be Bahama, in which he was confirmed by an old woman who was found alone in another island.  They were likewise confirmed in this circumstance by James Miruelo, a pilot, who happened to be there with a boat from Hispaniola.  Having ranged backwards and forewards to the 23d of September, and refitted their ships, Juan Ponce de Leon sent one of his ships, commanded by Juan Perez de Ortubia, with Antonio de Alaminos as pilot, with orders to examine the island of Bimini, in which the Indians reported there was a spring which made old people young again.  Twenty days afterwards, Juan Ponce returned to Porto Rico, and not long afterwards the ship returned there which he had sent to Bimini, but without discovering the famous spring.  Ortubia reported that the island was large, and pleasantly diversified with hills, plains, and meadows, having many rivers and delightful groves[2].

Besides his main design of making discoveries, which all Spaniards then aspired to, Ponce was eager to find out the spring of Bimini, and a certain river in Florida, both of which were affirmed by the Indians of Cuba to have the property of turning old people young by bathing in their waters.  Some time before the arrival of the Spaniards, many Indians were so thoroughly convinced of the reality of such a river, that they went over to Florida, where they built a town, and their descendants still continue there.  This report prevailed so universally among the caciques in these parts, that there was not a brook in all Florida, nay scarcely a lake or puddle, that they had not bathed in; and some still ignorantly persist in believing that this virtue resides in the river now called Jordan, at Cape Santa Helena, forgetting that the Spaniards first gave it this name in 1520, when they discovered the country of Chicora.

Though this voyage of Ponce de Leon turned out to no account to him, it gave him encouragement to go to court to seek a reward for the countries he had discovered, which he believed to be all islands, and not the continent, as it afterwards turned out.  Yet his voyage was beneficial, on account of the route soon afterwards found out, by which the ships returned to Spain through the Bahama channel, which was first accomplished by the pilot Antonio de Alaminos, formerly

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