Cynthia Painter Collins was born in New Haven, Connecticut, on August 20, 1791, the daughter of Thomas and Hannah Candee Painter. Between 1806 and 1807, she attended the Litchfield Female Academy in Litchfield, Connecticut. On May 15, 1815, she married Simeon Collins. She died on April 28, 1880.
Simeon Collins (1786-1866), a bookseller, conducted business in Philadelphia and Boston, leading him to frequently spend time away from his family. Cynthia and her children often lived with her brother, Alexis Painter, while Simeon was away on business. Cynthia and Simeon had five children: Thomas Painter, David C., Cynthia (m. Henry Sherman), Francis, and Anna Maria. Thomas Painter Collins (1823-1873) and David C. Collins (1825-1909) became daguerreotypists and photographers of moderate fame and shared a Philadelphia for many years. Thomas married Elizabeth Weatherby Chapin in 1847 and relocated to Westfield, Massachusetts, while David remained in the existing studio, marrying Theresa Oggelsby in 1856. Thomas and Elizabeth Collins had four children, and David and Theresa Collins had two: William R. and Annie Teresa.
Alexis Painter, Cynthia's younger brother, was born on November 24, 1794, in West Haven, Connecticut, and attended Yale College (1815) and Litchfield Law School (1817) before moving to Annapolis, Maryland. He briefly practiced law there before a temporary move to Liverpool, England, where he was a sailor. He later moved to Westfield, Massachusetts, and became a businessman. He returned to West Haven in 1837 and worked as a teacher until 1852. He died on October 19, 1867.