Guest Speaker, January’s Brown Bag Lunch
CCHS member Elliot Kocen shared with the standing-room only crowd how he and his wife, Joan, came to live in a historic home and how he found himself being the author of A History of Rousby Hall. Joan, who was searching for a project in the 1990s, discovered the home and its Customs House, and quickly fell in love with it. Through much hard work, Elliot and Joan were able to invite friends to a Rousby Hall celebration in 2007, whereupon many wanted to know the home’s history. In what started as a page of information and steadily grew to 30 and more pages, Elliot began his journey in creating the book.
The story began when the Rousby brothers – Christopher and John–arrived in Maryland in 1666. Christopher settled on the southern shore of the Patuxent River, while John built the home known as Susquehana on the northern shore. Part of the original land grant called Eltonhead, Christopher’s property included the Customs House in which the King’s Collector would gather taxes owed by ships sailing up the river. An argument led to Christopher’s death at the hand of the tax collector, and John Rousby sailed to England to file charges but died before his return.
John Rousby II inherited the property and probably built Rousby Hall around 1730, but he died at an early age. His widow ultimately consented to marry William Fitzhugh from Virginia (after much coercion), who was a sympathizer to the Patriot cause. Fitzhugh refused to outfit British troops with supplies and, as a result, the British destroyed his home. Rousby Hall was rebuilt, and this house is the current home of Joan and Elliot.
In A History of Rousby Hall, Elliot details the lineage of the Rousby and Fitzhugh families and describes the several Rousby Halls in detail. He has included numerous images of earlier residents as well as photos of artifacts found during excavation and shoring up of the house. He and Joan invite the reader to share their home in the pages of A History of Rousby Hall, available in the CCHS Gift Shop. It’s been so popular that we’re on the third printing now! Call to make sure it’s in stock!