I checked the 1840 US FEDERAL CENSUS ON ANCESTRY.COM FOR WILSON FAMILIES WITH FREE WHITE MALES UNDER 5 YEARS OF AGE YANCEY COUNTY, NC:
Thos. Wilson 2 free white males under 5 Abijah or Ahijah Wilson - 1 male under 5
NOTE: EDWARD WILSON - ELDERLY (70-79) 9 slaves AND ONLY THE COUPLE - I would think this was the grandfather of the clan of Wilson.
George Wilson - l male under 5 George E. Wilson - 2 males under 5 George J or D Wilson - 2 males under 5 Isaac C. Wilson - 2 males under 5 Jessee A. Wilson one male under 5 Philip Wilson - 2 males under 5 Saml Wilson l2 males under 5 Samuel L. Wilson 1 male under 5 'Thomas Wilson 1 male under 5 another Thos Wilson 2 males under 5 William Wilson2 males under 5 Wm. Wilson 2 males under 5
So I think that there were Wilson families with young children. There was no other information given as to area of Yancey County in this Census - the writing was very difficult to read on the Census. But this might mean some place to start as to finding parents of James R. Wilson.If I find anything else will let you know. I chose 1840 Census since James R. Wilson was born @ 1835.
The Refuge Baptist Church where he is buried might have some information in the archives, or the county also, as to who his parents were.