The Roman Catholic Church in Niles traces its origin to the Indian Mission established at nearby Fort St. Joseph in the late 1600's. Reestablished at Bertrand, three miles south of Niles, in the 1830s, the mission moved into town in 1849 and was renamed St. Francis's. In 1866 the cornerstone of the present building was laid and on December 11, 1870, the church was dedicated to St. Mary. Designed by Rufus Rose of Niles with later modifications by Father John Cappon, the church was completed in 1890 with the construction of the gothic tower. Father Cappon, known as the "parish's greatest benefactor," was a Belgian-born priest who served as pastor for over thirty years. He gave generously of his large personal estate for many parish improvements.