About Joseph Schneider, M.D.

Dr. Joseph Schneider practiced medicine in Milwaukee for 45 years and enjoyed an international reputation as a specialist in ophthalmology and otology. Born in Weigelsdorf, Silesia, Germany in 1845, he came to America in the early 1880s, not intending on relocating, but settled in Milwaukee. Before starting his practice in Milwaukee, Dr. Schneider had practiced for 10 years in Wuerzburg, Germany and attended clinics in Paris, London, and Vienna.

It has been estimated that Dr. Schneider saw no less than one hundred eighty thousand patients in his 45-year career. He enjoyed an international reputation and clients came to his office on Water Street from throughout the United States and even from as far away as China.

Artist: Carl von Marr

He was often described as a man who did not seek fame or fortune for himself, but was dedicated to serving humanity. He possessed a notable attitude for democracy, as it has been documented, that he made no appointments. Rather, his patients all awaited their turn, whether they were rich or poor. One newspaper article published in 1945, related a story revealing that the good doctor was a romantic. He kept the date when he received his first patient – October 12, 1881 – in memory. When he reached the milestone of 50,000 patients, he sent this first patient, a gift of a silver vase. This same article stated that Dr. Schneider treated patients who could pay and those who had no means to do so. Money collected each day went into a wastebasket to be counted at the close of day.

This was the money that bought the land that would become Doctors Park and provided the significant endowment for an eye hospital in Wuerzburg, Germany. This free clinic in Germany, was established to provide eye care for women, as he stated: “the widows and daughters who are left without means of support and who earn their living by doing fine needlework.”

He and his wife Louise (Preusser) lived at 311 Knapp Street. This would be 1107 East Knapp today, where the Empire Apartments stand, just west of the Peltz Gallery.  The Schneiders summered on their property in Fox Point.

The Schneiders were the parents of two daughters, of whom Louise was born in 1894. She became the wife of William H. Marshall, whose grandfather was the founder of Marshall & Illsley Bank. Josephine, born in 1901, later became the wife of Frank Gordon McGeoch.

Dr. Schneider was given an honorary degree from Marquette in 1926 and the citation read:

Joseph Schneider, M.D. Doctor of Medicine of the University of Wurzburg, post-graduate student at Wurzburg, Vienna, and Halle, in the special practice of medicine for over fifty years, generous in his services to the poor and fair to all his patients, who, by virtue of his pioneering service in the scientific treatment of eye diseases in Milwaukee, his promotion of scientific research in medicine and his writings, particularly in sympathetic ophthalmia, his consulting service to physicians from many sections of the country, his long recognized standing as an authority in the fields of ophthalmology and otology, is entitled to the degree of Doctor of Science (honoris causa).

Dr. Schneider outlived Louise and passed away in Milwaukee in 1927. In his will he gifted a tract of 65 acres (or 63 acres by some accounts) to the city of Milwaukee, to be known as Doctor’s Park. Note the apostrophe. That was lost through time and we happily operate apostrophe-less today.

In 1937 Doctors Park was transferred, under the administration of Mayor Daniel Hoan, to what is now our Milwaukee County Parks.  At this time, several parks in the city of Milwaukee were transferred into what residents recognize today as the Milwaukee County Parks System. As stated in the deed: “The above described premises are sold and conveyed upon the express condition that the same shall be used forever solely and exclusively as a public park, amusement and recreation grounds and shall bear the name, to wit, Doctor’s Park.”

Dr. Schneider enjoyed gardening and nature and apparently wanted to ensure that others could enjoy the property that gave him and his family so much enjoyment.

Given the family history, we hope that descendents of both families may share photos or other history they have about the family with us. The park is a fabulous gift. All those who enjoy the park today would be most interested to learn how the Schneider family spent their time on the property before the transfer. Contact us!

Much thanks to the staff at the Milwaukee County Historical Society, specifically the Harry H. Anderson Research Library for providing information for this history.

Earth Day Beach & Park Clean Up

Celebrate Earth Day with us at Doctors Park. Please bring work gloves and a your own water reusable water bottle* for a morning or community clean-up. Information regarding the amount and type of trash we learn from the beach will be sent to the Alliance for the Great Lakes as part of the Adopt-a-Beach program.

9:30 to Noon. Meet in the parking lot.

You can learn more about the program and register for the event at the Alliance for the Great Lakes or RSVP via email.

Download the Earth Day Flyer 2015 to share.

*Disposable plastic water bottles are some of the most destructive trash in the Great Lakes. Join us and learn why we all should not use them however convenient it is.

Park History

Doctors Park is located on the border of Fox Point and Bayside on the shoreline of Lake Michigan. It shares it’s northern border with the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center.
Doctors Park is comprised of approximately 49 acres situated on the bluff, and features a number of ways to descend from the parking lot, playground and practice fields above to the beach and lake below. These include a paved trail, stairs and semi-maintained dirt trail.

Doctors Park was established in 1928, a gift to the City of Milwaukee by Dr. Joseph E. Schneider, an eye specialist. The land was that on which he had established his country home, and upon his death he willed the land to the city with the intent that the land be undisturbed, save for any measures necessary to open the property for public use. The park opened to the public in 1930 after an expenditure of $26,000 0n improvements.  Part of this expenditure was the memorial at the park entrance which was dedicated on September 14, 1930. The park was transferred to Milwaukee County Parks  in 1937, along with a few other city of Milwaukee parks. Adjoining the park on the south is a small Dutch cemetery, one of the oldest burial grounds in Milwaukee County. First burials date from the cholera epidemic of 1850. The photo here is an aerial view from 1937.  Note the path from Dean Road to the Memorial and the arching path that comes from Fox Lane (a tree lined road that served his house from Fox Lane that is still in use) and an extension that led to the path down to the beach that is still visible but abandoned years ago.

Other developments which took place after the park’s opening included construction of the bathhouse and jetties as part of a WPA  project in 1939-1940. Additional jetties, the pavilion (restrooms) and the long staircase on the face of the bluff were constructed in 1949. Doctors Park’s wonderful, expansive beach, was named Tietjen Beach in 2001, after George Tietjen, who founded Milwaukee County’s Lifeguard Corps. Mr. Tietjen became the first Lifeguard Director for the Parks Department in 1946 and held this position until he retired in 1977.  Earlier in the beach’s history, report of nude night time bathers prompted sheriff patrols in August 1930.

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