St. Ann's Cemetery was organized at the suggestion of John Suydam. At that time, a portion of the church property was set aside for the burial of the dead. The Suydams and other original communicants reserved plots along the main road through the cemetery. The year 1877 is marked on the posts of the Suydam plot.
The Smiths, who lived on North Main Street, owned several large parcels of land in Sayville at the time St. Ann's was organized. They owned the land from their home to the western border of what is now St. Ann's Cemetery. Foster Avenue was later extended through their property. Two burials - L. Smith, 3/5/1852, and M. Smith, 3/5/1868 - are probably theirs. The 1852 burial is the only pre-Civil War interment.
In September, 1895, the grounds between St. Ann's Cemetery and the older Union Cemetery were purchased by the Vestry, and the two cemeteries virtually became one. It was the Reverend John H. Prescott's plan to create a lake as part of the creek area.
The creek area of the cemetery grounds and the church land that borders Brown's River are now a Suffolk County Nature Preserve and Watershed. The county park, Meadowcroft, previously the John Ellis Roosevelt estate, forms the eastern border of Brown's River. This assures the integrity of the wetlands in this particular area.
By January, 1932, the Vestry of St. Ann's had awarded contracts to open up all the roads from the Suydam Memorial Gateway, to the exit road on the east side of the cemetery. The road at the entrance was to have a bead of oystershells overlaid with cinders, and the trees south of the south avenue were to be thinned out sufficiently to make lots salable in that section.
St. Ann's Cemetery is the final resting place of many denominations. Episcopalians account for a good percentage of the burials, particularly the earliest. There are wealthy and poor alike. A Civil War general, a United States diplomat, and a noted East Coast architect lie next to physicians, lawyers, musicians, sea folk, clergy, and just plain people.
by Connie Currie