In October 1777, General Horatio Gates defeated British General John Burgoyne at the Battle of Saratoga, N.Y., a turning point in the war.
Some of Burgoyne’s officers were held as prisoners in Farmington. One British officer taken prisoner during the war, William Sprats, stayed on after the war to help build “Oldgate,” the house at 148 Main Street, for Zenas Cowles. It is said that he employed Hessian soldiers, also former prisoners, as carpenters. The gate, with its Oriental symbol for “peace and prosperity,” reflects the Chinese influence on design during the late 1700s.
Artillery and small arms seized from the British at Saratoga were brought back to Farmington by Colonel Ichabod Norton, where they were kept in John Mix’s orchard.