Finnish immigrants founded this little village in 1900. The name Kaleva is derived from the Finnish epic poem Kalevala. This poem was the source of street names in the original plat. The Evangelical Lutheran Church, known today as the Bethany Lutheran, was organized on January 12, 1902. On that same day the Temperance Society "Kalevatar" was organized. The Temperance Hall was built that year and served as a place of worship until 1913 when the church was built and as a community center until 1933. About the same time the Youth Society was organized, and a hall for meetings was built in 1904. The Finns took pride in their cultural heritage, founded a lending library, and instilled in their children a love for music, books and God and country. In 1901 the Finnish Publishing Company moved here from Brooklyn, New York, and the original building still stands.
Among the pioneers arriving in Kaleva in 1900 were the families of John Haksluoto, Jacob Lemponen, Kalle Hendrickson, Matti Kemppainen, Antti Myllyla, and John Palomaki. These settlers were mostly farmers and manual laborers. They possessed a distinctive quality of perseverance known as sisu. Life was a struggle. After arriving here, many were forced to clear land for homes and crops. Most homes had a sauna, and to a Finn, there is nothing comparable for reviving an overworked body and spirit. These pioneers along with people of other ethnic origins contributed to the development of Maple Grove Township, Manistee County, and to the culture and agriculture of Michigan. Today, Kaleva is a thriving community with profitable businesses and farms, good schools, and modern facilities.