Samuel Marinus Zwemer was born April 12, 1867 to Adrian and Catherine Zwemer in Vriesland, Ottawa Co., Mich., Apr. 12, 1867. His father, Adrian, was born February 12, 1823 in Oostkapelle, Netherlands. He was the youngest of seven children born to Jacob and Neeltje Janse Zwemer. Early in 1849, he left the Netherlands and settled in Rochester, New York. There he married Catherine Boon (1826-1886), who had traveled in the group with him, in 1849. Adrian moved his family to Holland, Michigan, in 1856. He was ordained by the Classis of Holland, Reformed Church in America, in 1858. His first church was at Vriesland, MI. Adrian and Catherine had 15 children, among them was Samuel. He retired from his last church at Spring Lake in 1898. He died on March 17, 1910 in Holland.
The influence of Reformed missions on the Arab world and particularly the Arabic language and culture has been far reaching. Pioneer missionaries in the Arab and Muslim worlds enjoyed a great deal of zeal for the spread of God's word. Translation of the entirety of Scriptures into the Arabic language constituted the top priority for Reformed missions in the first half of the 19th century. Accomplishing such an endeavour in a very rich and complex language was not a simple undertaking. It required highly qualified and gifted people. One such a person was Eli Smith.