The son of Joseph and Asenath (Little) Warner, Joseph Warner (1803-1865) was born in Sudbury, Vermont, Dec. 4, 1803. After completing his secondary education, he joined his father in the mercantile business, and soon surpassed his father in that enterprise. Widely respected in Addison County for his business acumen and commercial success, he relocated to Middlebury to accept the office of the first Cashier of the National Bank of Middlebury soon after its founding in 1831. He remained in that position until his death in 1865. In 1828, Warner was elected Representative to the State Legislature from Sudbury, and later represented Middlebury, from 1842-1844, and in 1850. He served as a member of the State Senate, 1855-56, and was one of the electors who placed Lincoln in the presidential chair in 1861. He was elected a Trustee of Middlebury College in 1850 and served in that position until his death. He also was Trustee of the Congregational Church of Middlebury. Warner married twice. In 1833, he married Jane Meech, with whom he had three children: James M., Mary, and Ezra Joseph. In 1860, he married Maria Bates, daughter of Rev. Joshua Bates, third President of Middlebury College. Joseph Warner died on December 31, 1865.
Warner’s sons also went on to accomplished business careers. James M. (1837-97) attended West Point and served as a Colonel of the 11th Vermont Regiment in the Civil War. Returning from the war, he followed in his father’s footsteps pursuing a business career, eventually becoming President of the Albany Card & Paper Company. Ezra Joseph (1841-1910, Middlebury Class of 1861), studied law but chose business instead. In 1897, he became Vice President of the wholesale grocery concern of Sprague, Warner & Company, Chicago, and also was a successful financier. In memory of his father, Ezra J. Warner donated the funds for the construction of Joseph Warner Science Hall (1901) at Middlebury College.