Margaret Abbott (1878-1955) was the first American woman to win at an Olympic event. She won the women's golf tournament at the 1900 Paris Games. Abbott won a porcelain bowl. The 1900 Games were the only Olympics at which winners received valuable artifacts instead of medals.
The 1900 Games were so poorly organized that many competitors, including Abbott, did not realize that the events they entered were part of the Olympics. Historical research did not establish that the game was on the Olympic program until after Abbott's death, so she herself never knew it.