In the mid-1810s, Mennonite composer Joseph Funk (1778–1862) began compiling tunebooks in rural Rockingham County, which would eventually emerge as one of the state’s music printing hubs. After years of relying on Pennsylvania companies for printing, Funk eventually invested in his own font of music type. This prescient investment ultimately led to the foundation of Kieffer, Ruebush & Company in the early 1870s. The Funk family publishing and printing operation would flourish into the mid-twentieth century, specializing first in four- and later in seven-shape notation. Numerous composers and music teachers apprenticed in the Funk or Kieffer, Ruebush concerns before later pursuing independent careers throughout the South, including E. T. Hildebrand (1866–1931) and J. H. Hall (1855–1941) who founded their own Virginia-based music publishing companies.
During the second half of the nineteenth century, Richmond, Virginia, became another notable center for sacred music publication and distribution, particularly of hymnals. When the Methodist Episcopal Church, South split from the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1844 over the issue of slavery, its publishing arm was first headquartered in Richmond before relocating to Tennessee in 1854. The Presbyterians also split prior to the Civil War, with some denominational publications issuing from a northern branch in Philadelphia and others from a southern branch located in Richmond. During the Civil War, Richmond was the epicenter of confederate mass media and home to publishers like the Soldiers’ Tract Association and Evangelical Tract Society that distributed free hymnals to soldiers and often included a hymn text in their tracts. Most national publishers maintained distribution to Richmond even after the Civil War diminished the city’s cultural and economic standing.