- Rainer E. Lotz
singer, instrumentalist, diplomat, was born in Springfield, Ohio. The exact circumstances of his birth and upbringing are uncertain. Spyglass himself once gave his year of birth as 1878; but on another occasion, he mentioned it as being 1877. Elmer was not the natural child of his mother, Elizabeth Spyglass (born Elizabeth Johnson in Kentucky in 1843); he was probably adopted by Elizabeth and her husband, the blacksmith Augustus Spyglass (born in Jefferson County in 1846).
At age five, Augustus taught his son to play organ at the local church, and Elmer later joined the choir. At age ten, he spent the money he earned as a rose-picker on sheet music and music lessons. In 1897 he graduated from Springfield High School and sang at the graduation ceremony That same year he became cofounder of St John s Baptist Missionary Church and directed the ...
A version of this article originally appeared in African American National Biography.