Founded in 1890, the YMCA of Metropolitan Fort Worth began its mission in Fort Worth using a Gospel Wagon to reach out to residents. For its 120-year history, the YMCA has always been here for good – for the good of the community and its residents.

YMCA says Goodbye to Fort Worth’s Mr. Baseball

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A young Bobby Bragan speaks at the Westside YMCA in the 1950s.

Bobby Bragan speaks at YMCA Fundraising Kickoff in 2009

As Fort Worth says goodbye to Mr. Bobby Bragan, known as “Cowtown’s Mr. Baseball,” the YMCA of Metropolitan Fort Worth would like to honor him for his life-long connections to the YMCA.  Bragan began speaking to YMCA groups as a young man. Above, you can see him speaking to  a group in the early 1950’s at the Westside YMCA. In fact, he spoke to “hundreds of YMCA dads and their sons at father and son gatherings” according to a Resolution recognizing him in 1957 for his “example, leadership and services to the YMCA and the youth of our community.” Mr. Bragan continued to be a friend of the Fort Worth YMCA, offering to provide the keynote address last year at the Kickoff for the YMCA’s Step up for Kids annual fundraising campaign in September, 2009 held at the Fort Worth Cats’ LaGrave Field. Above right, you can see him pictured with Chris Johnson, chair of the Step up for Kids campaign and Tony Shuman, President/CEO of the YMCA of Metropolitan Fort Worth.

We honor Mr. Bragan and his tremendous committment to Fort Worth and all of its organizations.

YMCA work continues in Fort Worth

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An excerpt from the Gospel Wagon Workers, an early newsletter

Early newsletters of the YMCA in Fort Worth told the story of the Gospel Wagon and the workers it carried.  This issue carried a description of the Gospel Wagon from the Fort Worth Gazette, a list of Wagon Workers and Wagon Trustees as well as numbers of  visits and people served.

At the top was the phrase “From City to City” as the gospel wagon attempted to reach those in Fort Worth and surrounding areas.  Today, the YMCA  of Metropolitan Fort Worth reaches a 6-county area with its fitness facilities, programs and services.

The YMCA’s Gospel Wagon


YMCA Gospel Wagon in Fort Worth, circa 1890

The YMCA took to the streets of Fort Worth near the turn of the 20th Century with a Gospel Wagon, equipped with benches for volunteers and staff and an organ in the back so the workers could provide services on the spot.

Can you identify the Fort Worth church in the background of this shot?

1890-1900: The YMCA begins in Fort Worth

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“You are respectfully invited to an informal meeting of the Y.M.C.A. in Fort Worth…” began a letter by Geo. B. Loving inviting those who would like to “cultivate a more intimate relationship among those who desire to engage in active Christian work and to discuss and formulate such plans as will give the best results. ” Thus, the YMCA was born in 1890 in Fort Worth, a transportation hub with eleven railroads, 18 churches and 65 saloons. The YMCA was organized as an outgrowth of a union revival service held in the Taylor Street Presbyterian Church.

Evangelical Roots
Soon after its formation, the YMCA purchased a Gospel Wagon which was described in the Fort Worth Gazette as being pulled by a fine large team of horses, and depicting the official seal of the local association stamped in gold letters under the driver’s seat. The Wagon also included an oak organ and benches for on-the-spot services. Monthly reports from the first year of the YMCA included a statement from the Gospel Wagon Workers which described the evangelical work of the early YMCA. One such report included the statement, “We run in opposition to Saloons, Gambling Houses, Variety Theaters and all places of evil resort. For the young men of Fort Worth.”

YMCA Today
The early evangelical roots of the YMCA of Metropolitan Fort Worth are still in evidence today as the YMCA strives to carry out its mission by instilling core values of respect, honest, responsibility and caring through programs available for all. As the YMCA of Metropolitan Fort Worth looks toward the next decade, one of our strategic priorities will be focusing on youth development, preparing both young girls and young boys to succeed and serve, so that they can grow into strong, competent leaders who will continue to build on the YMCA’s foundation created 120 years ago.

Welcome to the blog celebrating the 120-year history of the YMCA of Metropolitan Fort Worth. In this blog, we will have information for those interested in history, Fort Worth or the YMCA – month by month, decade by decade.

Were you a YMCA member or participant years ago? Do you remember camp outs at Camp Carter or swimming at the Downtown Y? We invite you to share your YMCA memories in this blog – let us know what you remember or what you enjoy most now as a member of the YMCA. We can’t wait to hear from you!