First White Man Dies in America

Juan Ponce de León

Juan Ponce de León came to what is now Punta Gorda on his second expedition in 1521 with 200 colonists. The Calusa attacked, and Juan took an arrow to his hip. His men tried to pull it out but only got the shaft, and the arrowhead remained in his body.

The entire expedition returned to their ships and headed back to their home base in Cuba. But, it was too late! Juan’s wound had become infected. Noble Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León is now honored by Punta Gorda with a plaque titled: “The First White Man Dies In America.”

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