Cleveland Township was first settled on November 1, 1855 by a group made up of mostly Bohemian immigrants. A bronze plaque on a boulder at the corner of M-22 and Bohemian Road (County Road 669) commemorates the first settlement known as North Unity.
The early pioneers built a schoolhouse, sawmill and a store. A gristmill on Shalda Creek at the outlet of Little Traverse Lake was build around 1860. The Shalda house across from the Cleveland Township Hall also served as a grocery store. The first post office was established in 1859, and continued to operate until 1905.
Lumbering was North Unity's prinicpal means of livelihood until fire completely destroyed the entire community in 1871. At this time the families moved inland from the water's edge and became more agriculturally oriented.