Well my mom and dad are from Tennessee and here is how we have always made our beans, even my folks down in TN.
We do not soak the beans at all, make sure there are no rocks (if you are buying from a store) rinse them, put in a pot and cover with about 2 inches of water and add a big ol scoop of lard (butter works too) bring to a boil. Reduce hit and simmer for about 3-4 hours, add some onions. If you have a ham bone or some ham chunks those are nice. Never had a problem with the beans not being soft. Then you have to have fried taters and homemade cornbread with it.
This is actually my Super Bowl menu!!
Rubbed,Smoked, and Sauced BBQ Team Powered by Bar's Leak and Rislone
Ranch Kettle,Weber Performerl
Certified Moink Baller
President of the Great Lakes BBQ Association
For those who fought for it, freedom has a flavor the protected will never know