Ponce de Leon returns to St Augustine

Candy Carroll and Dan Holiday share a lot in common — including a passion for the history of St Augustine and a quest to commemorate the characters that defined the Age of Discovery in Florida.

Through collaboration by the couple, Holiday’s son-in-law, and with support from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Carroll has announced that she and Holiday are planning to erect a monument to honor Ponce de Leon’s discovery on a site as close as possible to where Holiday believes the landing actually occurred.

Anyone who knows Holiday knows that he is an avid supporter of the theory that the Ponce discovery took place south of Ponte Vedra Beach; at coordinates recorded in the research of Antonio de Herrera as 30 degrees, 8 minutes.

There are other theories about the land sighting and where the explorers ultimately came ashore in the New World. The whereabouts of the ship’s log for the expedition is unknown and presumed lost or destroyed.

“We don’t know exactly where Ponce de Leon landed as he traveled along the coast,” Secretary of State Ken Detzner told the audience during the recent Viva 500 summit in St Augustine. “So, Viva 500 is opportunity for everyone in Florida to get involved and celebrate.”

500 years ago, navigators were not aided by satellite or GPS, and the Florida coastline has made some considerable changes over the centuries. Today, 30 degrees, 8 minutes would be on land — supporting Holiday’s theory that the measurement was taken by the landing party, not from aboard the ship.

Carroll has put up the money for a Sanford, FL foundry to cast the statue of the famous Spanish explorer. Holiday’s daughter, Elizabeth, and her husband, Coenraad Janse Van Rensburg, are helping as well by providing the base for the statue.

Holiday told Historic City News that the State has agreed for the statue to be installed in the corner of a public parking lot on the west side of SR-A1A so that it will be visible to motorists passing by.

Carroll and Holiday reject the notion that they are trying to revise history with the monument. “Site selection in 2012 involves a different process than would have been required in 1513,” Holiday explained. “My research, supported by the best available accounts of the voyage of Ponce de Leon, indicates that the landing party most likely discovered Florida very near this location.”

In the history of the world, 500 years is merely the blink of an eye. All Floridians will commemorate the year 1513 as the year Ponce de Leon led an expedition of European explorers to discover and claim our homeland in the name of Spain.

Ponce de Leon did not establish a settlement at the landing site; he continued his travels. There is much clearer evidence from the expedition of Pedro Menendez de Aviles, 52-years later, when the City of St Augustine was first settled.

Photo credits: © 2012 Historic City News contributed photographs by Raphael Cosme

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