I looked into the 1880 Nash NC census.
From this, I found John's appx. dob being 1822
Looking at the children's name, this helped in possibly,, most probability of a lead.
The oldest daughter, Margaret gives her dob as 1854 in the 1880 census, being 26 yrs old.
It led me to a NC death record for a
MAGGIE CHANCE borne july 11, 1850, dod Jan 1938
I know there is a four year difference, but what caught my eye were her parents names and place of birth.
Maggie Chance was married to Charlie Chance. She was 87 yrs old.On the record, parents names listed were
John Watson of Halifax NC and Katie Long of Edgecombe.
From this, I looked into the Halifax census, finding possibilities of John's father. Of course, the very early census offered little on family members names, only markings of amount in age group.
I found two census in Halifax 1830 and 1840
In the 1840 census there is actually a John Watson household. In this family, the head of the household shows age of 20-29, one male, prob. his father, in the age of 50-59 What is not "adding up" unless Catherine was a second wife, is a woman in the age group of 20-29 and one male child under the age of 5.
In the 1830 Halifax NC census there are two WATSON households
One Thomas Watson in the 20-29 year range with one son in the 5-9 range
The other family cannot be your John's father,named
William W. Watson also of Halifax also in the 20-29 year, range with a son under the age of 5.
So as of now, I would say Thomas Watson is the highest probability of this being John's father.
I hope this is some help to you/