North Unity is located in the northern part of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore where Shalda Creek empties into Lake Michigan. Turn onto CR 669 and drive to Lake Michigan Drive which is the dirt road just before you reach Lake Michigan. Turn left and drive 0.8 miles to Shalda Creek, where you will find a vault toilet near the roadside. Hike back along the creek to Lake Michigan. Alternatively, you can park at the end of CR 669 by Lake Michigan and walk to the beach. Turn left and walk along the beach to Shalda Creek. This is the site of North Unity. There is no evidence of the little village, but as you read the story of these hardy immigrants, you can imagine what it might have looked like.
North Unity was settled in 1855 by a group of Bohemians from present-day Czech Republic and Germany, by way of Chicago. Francis (Frank) Kraitz, his wife Antonia, and their family arrived in Chicago from Pelhrimov, Bohemia in August, 1855. Shortly before their arrival several German families and a few Czechs formed a society they called “Verein” which is the German word for club or association.
An account of the early settlement written by one of the settlers, Joseph Krubner and published in Chicago Bohemian newspaper reveals the hardships of pioneer life.
According to Krubner, the Bohemians were looking for paradise. They hoped to find it in Chicago, but winter, few stores, and no jobs required they look further. So, the Verein hired a sailboat and sailed 270 miles up the Michigan coast still looking for paradise. They landed in Good Harbor where they found a group of people were already living there, so they travelled ten or so miles and settled near Pyramid Point. “Here, at the Lake Michigan near Pyramid Bay, in deep forests never touched by human hands, began a new city, North Unity, Krubner wrote.
A typhoid epidemic in Chicago caused the Kraitz family and their friends, the Vaclav Muzil family and the Krubner family to leave quickly for North Unity, which they did in October, 1855. Their ship ran aground off Racine, WI, but fortunately they were picked up two hours later by the Lady Elgin and taken to North Manitou Island. After a few days they were able to take a small boat to North Unity.