I've been trying to track down your JMB mentioned in the article. Do you know who conducted the interview or where it was published?I've looked through the Federal Census from 1840 until 1920 using clues you provided.There is one person that fits most, but not the most important. His father was Thomas J (TJ)BATES from SC.
Going backwards 1910 US Census-South Fork, Montgomery Co, Arkansas-James M. Bates b.GA 1837-38 both parents born SC wife Amanda b. 1849 GA parents b GA. Boarder named Mamie Reid(Rud-Reed)b.1908.
1900 Census...same location..JMB b. 1837 GA parents both b. SC wife Mandie b. 1849 parents born GA. Children: Margaret A b 1877 AR, Marthia A b 1885 AR.
1880 Census-same location-James M Bates b. 1837 GA parents SC. Wife Amanda b 1849 GA parents b. GA. Children: Mary A 1869 AR, Sarah D. 1871 AR, Dasia 1873 AR, Margaret 1877 AR, Thomas M 1879 AR.
1870-same location South Fork, Montgomery Co AR, James M Bates b 1838 GA wife Amanda b. 1849 GA one child Mary A. On one census it states they married in 1838.
On the 1860 Census the only James that fits the years 1837-1838 b GA, parents b SC, is living with father in Cherokee Dist. GA, Thomas J BATES b. 1808 SC-Blacksmith-wife Dicey BATES b.1815 SC-children are as follows: James 1838 GA, Moses 1841 GA, Rachael 1844 GA, William 1846 GA, Thomas 1849 GA, Margaret 1852 AR, Elizabeth 1853 AR, Esther 1855 AR, Elenda 1858 AR.
1850 Census, Cherokee Dist GA, Thomas J BATES b. 1808 SC wife Diley b. 1818 SC Children: Nancy 1835 GA, Sarah A 1836 GA, James M 1838 GA, Mary 1839 GA, Moses 1841 GA, Rachael 1843 GA, William 1847 GA, Thomas 1850 GA.
Now going back to the 1840 Census. There is a Thos J Bates living in the Cherokee Dist GA, 2 adults and 4 children.This would match with the Thomas J BATES father to the James M. BATES living in AR in 1910.
No proof today, but I believe the Thomas J (Jefferson) BATES mentioned above is a possible brother to my James M. Bates b. 1812 GA, lived over 20 years in Central AL, then moved to MS between 1858 and 1859.