U.S. Rep. Jessie Sumner (R-Sheldon); her congressional career attracted national attention in the 1930s

In 1938, then in Illinois' 18th Congressional District, they elected Jessie Sumner to Congress — only the third woman from the state to serve in the House. Sumner, running on a vigorous anti-New Deal platform, defeated U.S. Rep. James A. Meeks, a Danville Democrat, in a race that attracted national attention.

Well, Sumner attracted national attention with good reason.

Jessie Sumner, born on a farm in Iroquois County in 1898, was accustomed to making history: She was the first American woman to study law at Oxford University in England, the first woman elected a county judge in Illinois and, according to her, the first woman elected county judge in any state.

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