Combine ham hocks and water in a large soup pot. Simmer over medium heat for 15 to 30 minutes. Melt butter in a skillet; add onion and seasonings. Cook for about 5 minutes, just until onion is tender. Place beans in a slow cooker; add onion mixture, then pour meat and broth over top. Cover and cook on high setting for 4 to 6 hours, until beans are as tender as desired. Shortly before serving time, dice meat from ham hocks and stir back into slow cooker.
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