The area of Rokai eldership is 4,157 ha. Rokai is the largest village in the eldership. Formerly the eldership was larger. From 4 April 1996, by the resolution of the Government, 1,060 hectares of the territory of Rokai Eldership went to Kaunas city along with six villages in the territory. Today there are 16 villages, with the population of 1,300 people, in the surroundings of Rokai.
Rokai was first mentioned as Rokas field in the document of 1500, whereby the Grand Duke Alexander I Jagiellon of the GDL donates lands by the river Jiesia to Heinrich Szlager (Henrikas Šliageris). Rokas field is also mentioned in the document of Jan Chodkiewicz, who was the starost of Kaunas, of 1578. By this document, land was devoted to Jurgis Reineris for the construction of paper mill.
In the founder letter of 1639, Stanisław Radziwiłł, who was the chancellor of the GDL, approves the donation of the year 1603 to Kaunas Bernardine monks, and here already mentions the name Rokakiemis (literally the Yard of Rokas). In 1807, “Rokay” is marked on the map of New East Prussia. It is believed that data for the map was obtained from the locals. What the name “Rokai” could mean? There are several hypotheses: 1) the name derives from a name Rokas of Germanic origin: rohon means “the call of battle” + waltan “to rule”; 2) it derives from a nickname surname Rakauskai: the word “rak” (in Russian рак) in Slavic means “crayfish”. Formerly, there was plenty of crayfish, that loves fresh clean water, by the river Jiesia, and at least several men, whose surname was Rakauskas, were in each village of Rokai surrundings; 3) the following meanings of the word “rokas” can be found in the Academic Dictionary of Lithuanian of 1978, Volume XI V., page 85: a) fog, mist - almost every day we see fog shades from the mountain near the river Jiesia, and its strips on a very clear day; b) rokas – a word of Slavic origin, which means a crayfish; c) rokas – a fairy bird giant whom all the birds of the world feared; d) rokavimas - purposeful conduct, acting, estimation having foreseen the possible consequences
The first version proved to be the most acceptable to the locals of Rokai, and on 1 October 2005, a monument in honour of Saint Roch was opened near Rokai Secondary School, during the commemoration of the 505th anniversary of Rokai. Saint Roch was chosen as the patron of Rokai.
In 1812, the troops of Napoleon Bonaparte marched through the neighbourhood of Rokai. According to the locals, when Napoleon Bonaparte rode on horseback through Rokai, his horse got frightened by a hare that jumped out of the bushes that grew by the river Jiesia and Napoleon fell off his horse. It was a prophetic sign to Napoleon of the sad end of the war. In June 1812, the troops of Napoleon settled on the banks of the river Jiesia and by the river Nemunas. On 23 June 1812, from Jiesia Mound Napoleon Bonaparte watched his troops crossing the river Nemunas to the neighbourhood which today is known as Šančiai. After the visit of Napoleon, the locals changed the name of the mound from Jiesia to Napoleon Hill.
Jiesia Landscape Reserve is the greatest adornment of Rokai and its surroundings. The area of the reserve is 380 ha (234 ha of them belong to Kaunas district). There are more than 20 outcrops of the river Jiesia, which are also called scarps. This is the biggest number in Lithuania. The scarps are 30-40 meters high. The slopes of the river Jiesia serve as the best textbook of Geology - 70 million years of history of Lithuanian geological past can be read from them: thirty years ago it could be seen clearly in this place what the layers of earth lying above the water are made of. Today they are devastated because of creeping movements of people. After 10-20 years, they can only remain in memories.
The 4th fort, that is located not far from Rokai, is reminiscent of tsar times – the period between 1882 and 1890, when Kaunas was fortified. It was built mainly of bricks that were baked in temporary brickyards of the local Frandzeliava village. This is also evidenced by the inscriptions on some bricks that survived into the present day: Ф1, Ф3, Ф4... They mark the place of baking. Bricks were also brought from the private brickyards of Rokai residents, and from the brickyard of Frandzeliava Manor.
In 1912, Tsar Nicholas II with the family arrived by the river Jiesia to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the victory against Napoleon. A carpet for tsar's family was laid up to the top of Napoleon Hill.
A wayside shrine in Girininkai village, near the homestead of Varkala family, is a witness of the severe repression of 1864-1904, when Lithuanian press was banned. The wayside shrine, that was built in 1991 in honour of the father book smuggler Petras Varkala by his daughter exile Antanina Varkalytė-Baltrušienė, testifies: “Bless this holly land of the homeland / And the burden of book smugglers, and the suffering of the exiled ones, / And the hands that are bloody from work and from shackles”. At the beginning, a farmer and doctor's assistant Petras Varkala smuggled banned press from Tilsit by himself, but later he was assisted by Jewish tradesman Zelikas. The latter carried a banned Lithuanian press on the double bottom of the carriage, with a bunch of different stuff lying on it. This way, he raised no suspicions of carrying “criminal material” even to the smartest gendarme. Later, Jewish Zelikas boasted jokingly that he contributed to raising of Lithuanianism.
Kazys Aglinskas, the participant in Aušrininkai movement, who was from the same Girininkai village, was the comrade of P. Varkala. A revolutionary Vincas Kapsukas-Mickevičius was hiding in the underground of the ban of Varkalos family. P. Varkala was imprisoned in Kaunas Prison for relations with cicilikai and for distribution of the banned press.
In the early days of World War II, more than 700 Russian soldiers tragically died near the Rokai. They are buried in anti-tank fortification. On 18 August 1941, 534 Jewish intelligents were shot to death and buried in the 4th fort. During the war, long columns of condemned Jewish people were brought by force to the southeast side of the fort. In total, about 4,000 Jews were killed here. During the shooting, no one, either walking or driving, was allowed to move on the road. According to witnesses, machine gun shots could be heard in Rokai. Those shot to death were covered with a thin layer of soil. For a few weeks, blood was flowing upward. At the end of the war, the corpses of the killed Jews were burned by German soldiers. There is a monument in memory of the terrible facts of killing Jews. On the last Sunday in October, Kaunas Jews gather together to commemorate the victims. In the post-war years, people lived in the 4th fort, even dancing was organised here. After the restoration of independence, there were attempts to grow mushrooms in the fort. Today, the fort serves as a reserve of bats.
By the Decree No 329 of 13 September 2005, Rokai parish of St. Anthony of Padua was founded, a priest V. Gažulevičius was appointed to hold the post of the parson of the parish. This is the result of unified work of all generations of Rokai residents in maturing the Catholic community. Through active pastoral activity the priest V. Gražulevičius became the best unifier of Rokai town that was teared up in administrative terms.