In the 1850s, With the lack of work in Chicago, some Bohemian ( present-day Czech Republic) and German immigrants left the city and sailed Lake Michigan looking for paradise. They landed in Good Harbor in the Leelanau Peninsula. After trekking about 10 miles inland they found a beautiful piece of land to establish a new community they called North Unity. With the spread of Typhoid throughout Chicago, their family and friends left in October to start a new town in Northern Michigan. With winter coming they decided to build a large 150-foot long barrack. It was divided up inside with walls to house each family until they could build houses and establish farms in the spring.
The first winter was extremely challenging for the group. They had brought little supplies with them, and because of the winter, they were not able to grow food to feed their families. The local ponds and lakes were frozen over and they could not fish either. They purchased some corn from the local Indians and managed to keep off starving to death in time for the spring thaw.
In the spring they built permanent houses and farms and over the next few years, the little community began to prosper. Other people began moving to the little town in the Leelanau Peninsula. Eventually, a schoolhouse and a gristmill were constructed and John Shalda built a general store. Sadly in 1871 forest fires swept through Michigan and with it destroyed most of the buildings and houses of North Unity.
The people of the devastated community moved further inland to the area near the corner of M-22 and Bohemian Road. (County Road 669) They started a new community and built new houses and other buildings including a church. John Shalda built a new general store and a log cabin. Not far away a new school was constructed. Most of the buildings are gone and nothing remains of the original site of North Unity. The log cabin John Shalda constructed and the old log schoolhouse can still be seen today along M-22.
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